St. Paul blocks ‘private dorms’ near St. Thomas

The St. Paul City Council has placed a one-year moratorium on private dormitories near the University of St. Thomas.

The council passed the moratorium last night in response to a five-story apartment building that a local real estate developer expects to start building later this year right next to the school’s St. Paul campus.

Grand and Finn.jpg

Architect’s rendering of the Grand Finn Apartments as presented to the City of St. Paul.

Neighbors fought to block the building, which consists of 20 four-bedroom units resembling the suite-style accommodations often found in modern dormitories. They said the building would dwarf the surrounding structures and worried the students who’d live there would become a nuisance.

The council was powerless to stop the project, because it fit perfectly into the established zoning code.

“This is such a bad, bad proposal and such a bad building,” Council Member Dave Thune said of the project when the council approved it. “I think the city has done a terrible disservice to the whole community if we can’t turn this down. ”

Over the next year, the city’s planning commission will study whether to tighten the zoning rules on the three-quarter mile stretch of Grand Ave. between Cretin and Fairview.

The moratorium applies only to buildings over 40 feet tall and those that have “design features similar to that of ‘dormitory’ style housing.” It has no effect on the Grand Finn Apartments, because they have already been approved.

The developer, Cullen LLC, did not respond to a request for comment. The university, which opposed an ordinance passed earlier this year restricting student rental housing in the area, hasn’t taken a position on the moratorium.

  • Kyle

    It’s absolutely disturbing what this city is doing. The sheer ignorance of this city and and its council is astounding. Students, receiving an education, are now being forced away from their school simply due to the selfishness of surrounding residents. Council member Dave Thune will never receive my support. His agenda is clearly self-centered and without thought. At what point in our “free” country did it become acceptable to tell someone where they can live? Now construction jobs are being lost and more students will be in houses. The shortsightedness disgusts me.

    denying “design features similar to that of ‘dormitory’ style housing”—— this is IDIOTIC