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Partnering to Develop The Heights on St. Paul's East Side

Partnering to Develop The Heights on St. Paul's East Side

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is honored to be a major project partner in The Heights, a $370 million redevelopment of the 112-acre former Hillcrest Golf Course in St. Paul. The St. Paul Port Authority (SPPA) is leading the redevelopment and has selected Sherman Associates as the lead housing developer for the project. The project at the intersection of Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road will include both housing and light industrial redevelopment with a minimum of 1,000 living-wage, low-barrier jobs and 1,000 housing units.

Mayor Melvin Carter at a podium speaking to a room of supporters and media.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter announces The Heights partnership

On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, organizational leaders gathered to formally announce the partnership that will make The Heights redevelopment a reality. "The vision we're leading at The Heights embodies our shared commitment to long-term sustainability and high-quality affordable housing," said St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. "We are excited to bring this development to fruition with our partners and provide more family housing options in our growing city."

The SPPA identifies The Heights as an environmentally friendly neighborhood asset and the largest modern-day investment in St. Paul’s East Side. The development is designed to create mixed-use affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities—bringing housing, employment opportunities, and public amenities to the richly diverse East Side community.

The Heights rendering_blog cropRendering of The Height redevelopment plans

Sherman Associates will develop approximately 900 multi-family units. JO Companies, a BIPOC-owned development company, will develop a multifamily building ranging in size between 110 and 230 units. Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity will develop 130 to 150 affordable units of mostly townhomes (twin homes, triplexes, and fourplexes), with some single-family homes.

“Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is honored to be a partner in this transformative project on the East Side that will have a meaningful impact on our region’s housing shortage,” said Chris Coleman, President & CEO of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. “We will create up to 150 affordable homeownership opportunities at The Heights, which will unlock generational wealth-building for working-class families and create a more vibrant, equitable City of St. Paul.”

This will be the largest project in the history of Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity. While the scale is greater than other projects we’ve completed, we have plans to expand our capacity in financing, construction, and sales to support the effort. We’ll also spread construction across five years, so we’ll build at a familiar pace.

Aerial view of the property outlines for The Heights.
Aerial view of the property outlines for The Heights

As always, the Habitat homes will be affordable for working class families and individuals and will be built with high standards for quality and sustainability. At Twin Cities Habitat, we're also focused on advancing racial equity in housing, particularly on advancing Black homeownership. This project provides an amazing opportunity for families of color and intergenerational households to gain the benefits and wealth-building potential of Habitat homeownership.

Amenities and Affordability

Blue rendering of a potential twin home in The Heights.
Rendering of a potential twin home in The Heights

Sherman, JO Companies, and Twin Cities Habitat have a shared commitment to providing high-quality housing along with high-quality design, materials, and amenities across all affordability levels. The Heights will serve its residents with outdoor amenities, including a five-acre park, trails, wetlands, stormwater features, neighborhood gathering spaces, public art, and 15 acres of passive open space. Such housing spaces create compact, walkable environments that boost community connectivity.

Chris Sherman speaks into a microphone in front of media and supporters.
Chris Sherman, President of Sherman Associates, addresses the room

“Sherman Associates has developed and managed multifamily housing in St. Paul for over 30 years and has a long-term commitment to the community. Along with the City of St. Paul, Ramsey County, and the State of Minnesota, we believe this to be one of the most important sites for redevelopment in the region and state,” said Chris Sherman, President of Sherman Associates. “We look forward to engaging with our public and private partners and the community to deliver high-quality, sustainable homes that will enhance the East Side community for generations.”

Sherman is committed to delivering housing for all ages and all incomes and in this public-private partnership to create the most strategic mix of housing types at The Heights. The goal is to deliver a mix of high-density and mid-density housing options for sale and for rent, focusing on the “missing middle” of young households, large households, multigenerational households, and seniors.

The Heights Press Conference Johnny Opara
Johnny Opara, President & CEO of JO Companies. addresses the room

"As someone who grew up in Saint Paul and has an opportunity to be a part of history both professionally and personally, this is a great moment for the capital city," said Johnny Opara, President & CEO of JO Companies. "The collective vision for The Heights brings together the private and public sectors to partner and bring forth high-quality, sustainable housing options for families on the East Side of Saint Paul. This partnership is a true representation of our growing and diverse city and the culmination of hard work, and years in the making."

Community Engagement and Sustainability

Street-level rendering of a housing unit in The Heights.

The City of St. Paul and the SPPA have engaged with the community since 2019 gathering input for The Heights through outreach, workgroups, and the establishment of the Hillcrest Community Advisory Council. Feedback from these outreach efforts significantly informed the Master Plan and shows the importance of building pride in the East Side community for its uniqueness, diversity, and rich heritage. Sherman will continue to engage with the community to understand its priorities for the neighborhood, along with the SPPA, JO Companies, and Twin Cities Habitat.

Sherman will also pursue alignment with the sustainability goals at The Heights, seeking to exceed baseline sustainability standards. The selected standard and goals will be determined in consultation with the SPPA and other stakeholders as the design progresses. 

Development Partners and Timeline

Street-level rendering of the front porch of a twin home in The Heights.

Pollution remediation and grading will begin in 2023 with infrastructure construction beginning in late 2023 or early 2024. Construction on the multifamily buildings is expected to start in the fall of 2024, with estimated completion in late 2028. Kaas Wilson Architects is the architect, and Frana Companies is the general contractor on the project. Twin Cities Habitat will begin building in 2025 and expects construction to continue for five years.

About Sherman Associates

Sherman Associates is a growing commercial real estate development and management firm based in Minneapolis with properties throughout the Midwest, Colorado, and Florida. Sherman has developed over 12,000 multifamily units and currently owns and manages over 6,800 multifamily rental units (affordable and market-rate). Sherman also owns and manages over 640,000 square feet of commercial space, five hotels, four Starbucks, three restaurants, and two solar gardens. The company’s long-term vision is to build neighborhoods, enrich communities, and empower people.

About St. Paul Port Authority

The Saint Paul Port Authority is an economic development agency that expands the city’s tax base, serves as a conduit to quality job opportunities, advances sustainable and equitable development, and advocates for river commerce.

About JO Companies

JO Companies, LLC is a Black-owned, mission driven real estate development company located in the Twin Cities that specializes in developing affordable and workforce multifamily housing. Other real estate development areas includes: market rate, mixed-use and commercial. The company was founded by Johnny Opara, President and CEO, in 2009. JO Companies currently has over $200M in their real estate development pipeline, and has recently completed "The Hollows" an $18.4M 62-unit workforce housing development on the Greater Eastside in Saint Paul.

About Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity brings people together to create, preserve, and promote affordable homeownership and advance racial equity in housing. Since 1985, more than 1,600 families have partnered with Twin Cities Habitat to unlock the transformational power of homeownership. Twin Cities Habitat is one of the highest-regarded Habitat for Humanity affiliates nationwide.

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