Luther Seminary is in the early stages of exploring ways to develop some of its property. This exploration has been prompted by the changing needs of the seminary, as well as the surrounding communities. As President Rick Foss said at a recent meeting with some leaders of St. Anthony Park, “The seminary is committed to staying in its current location and continuing to be a vibrant contributor to the communities we live in.”
Last spring, a property-development committee was formed by the seminary to investigate new opportunities. This committee is made up of a variety of people, including Rick Beeson, executive vice president at Sunrise Banks in St. Anthony Park; Tanya Bell, a St. Paul resident who has been active in the neighborhood and is well-known for her real estate expertise; and several seminary board members, including Tom Holtz, a commercial real estate professional, and Gus Blanchard, the former CEO of Deluxe Corp.There are also several seminary staff leaders on the committee. The committee has been meeting with community leaders in Lauderdale and St. Anthony Park, county and state officials, neighbors and surrounding businesses to develop an understanding of community needs, Bell said. “We have begun to meet with developers about a variety of ideas that reflect the needs identified in the Como 2030 plan and we hope to choose one or more of these developers in early 2014.” The Como 2030 Plan is part of St. Paul’s comprehensive plan for the north part of the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. The plan was developed in 2006 and 2007 to create a blueprint for the area that includes increased housing options for an changing and aging neighborhood demographic. No decisions have been made as to which properties or what kind of projects will be developed, but the seminary intends to keep the community involved and informed as plans continue, Bell said. The seminary expects the development to occur in phases starting in 2014.