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Panel will discuss best ways to transform St. Paul’s Ford Plant site

Planning for how best to transform the 150-acre Ford Plant site in St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood will be part of a week-long placemaking residency May 5-9.

Planning expert Gil Penalosa will be featured during many events throughout the week, and the public is invited to a May 7 panel discussion on how placemaking can be used in redeveloping the Ford site.

Gil Penalosa is executive director of Toronto’s 8-80 Cities and the well-known former commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation in Bogotá, Colombia.

The 8-80 model looks at ways to make a community good for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old. The weeklong series of events is designed to see how the model can be implemented in the Twin Cities.

Penalosa will open the May 7 event at the University of St. Catherine’s Recital Hall — from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. — with an overview of his experiences, followed by panelists’ comments on the Ford site and other large developments. Discussion with the audience will follow.

The panelists are Colleen Carey, The Cornerstone Group president; Jon Commers, Metropolitan Council member, District 14; Tom Fisher, University of Minnesota College of Design professor and dean; Shawntera Hardy, Fresh Energy director of Transportation and Built Environment, and Jessica Treat, Saint Paul Smart Trips executive director.

The types of topics they’ll likely cover:

  • How are 21st century communities embracing bikeways, pedestrian-ways and open space to improve liveability, spur economic development, address social equity, and reduce auto dependence?
  • How can these principles shape redevelopment of the Ford site as a high-quality neighborhood for residents, employees and visitors of all ages?
  • What’s the applicability to other large sites in the region, such as the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant or West Side Flats?

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