Lowertown Market and Condo Project on Hold

The Farmer's Market Flats project at Fifth and Wall streets in Downtown Saint Paul is on hold once again.  The proposed 15,000-square-foot indoor market and housing complex has been going in fits and starts over the years.  The latest delay seems to be that developer Brian Sweeney has withdrawn from the project.

I won’t really get into the specific of the situations, but for the past few months the project has been stalled due to several lawsuits and countersuits. At the moment, the future of the Farmer’s Market Flats project is unclear, but Mayor Chris Coleman and other city officials say that they're committed to seeing the project through to completion.  The city and HRA have pledged up to $1.4 million in financing on the $13.5 million project.

The plan is for Farmers Market Flats to have a 15,000-square-foot indoor market area, which would be owned by the city and leased to the St. Paul Growers' Association, which runs the market.  The project has been in the works for about 20 years. A previous developer pulled out of the deal in 2006, and Sweeney stepped in last year.

Despite the soft real estate market and abundance of condos in the Twin Cities, he said he sold 32 of 48 condos. The units were priced between $144,000 and $244,000.  The buyers' deposits have been returned.

Right now, the main concern is getting the land back under Saint Paul’s control.  Sweeney is helping to facilitate this.  It could happen by October.  Despite moving aside, Sweeney also said he wants to help the city find a team that can get the project done.

It is unknown what the next incarnation of the project will entail or who will work on it. An indoor market will definitely be the foundation.

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