ST. PAUL (AP) -- A St. Paul community group is looking to add a new dimension to University Avenue that fits its name -- campus-style student housing.
University United, which has been active in the redevelopment of the intercity corridor and the surrounding area, has come up with preliminary plans for the construction of at least 100 student housing units over the next three years.
St. Paul city officials and leaders of local colleges -- including the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, Macalester College, Concordia University and Hamline University -- are expected to meet with the group within the next few months to review the housing proposal.
The project, which according to the group could cost up to $18 million, targets several key sites along University Avenue, including the southwest corner of Lexington Parkway, the northwest corner of Snelling Avenue and the intersection of Prior Avenue.
Brian McMahon, executive director of University United, said no proposal would move forward without community input.
"We're really excited about the prospect of adding student housing to the corridor," said McMahon. "We think it fills a need and a niche, and from a development standpoint, it makes sense. We think the potential to work with the higher education community is enormous."
There are no student residential accommodations along University Avenue in St. Paul, but several student dorms and apartments exist on the Minneapolis side, including University Village, between 25th and 26th avenues, which McMahon cites as an example of a mixed-use urban development for college students.
Incoming St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly has said he would support student housing along University as part of his plan to work with St. Paul's higher education institutions in furthering economic progress in the city.
St. Thomas is interested in the prospect of adding housing along University Avenue, said Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations, but he said it is too early to commit to any proposal.
Hennes noted that no project costs or institutional involvement for any housing development plan have been set yet.
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