Concord Exchange was South St. Paul’s original main street which was built up during the early part of the stockyards era. Most of the original buildings on Concord Exchange were torn down during the 1960’s and 1970’s as part of an urban renewal project to prepare the land for redevelopment. Early attempts at redevelopment did not meet the community’s expectations.
In 2002, the City collaborated with the consultant firm Dahlgren, Shardlow, and Uban Inc. to develop a framework manual for redevelopment along Concord Exchange, essentially a small area plan. The Framework Manual, which was adopted in 2003, is called the “Concord/Grand Avenue Gateway Streetscape and Redevelopment Plan.” The plan lays out streetscaping goals for the corridor as well as design standards for new construction and the reuse of existing buildings. The design standards were added to the City’s zoning code through the creation of a new zoning district, the “Concord Gateway Mixed Use” zoning district (CGMU). All of the land along Concord Exchange is zoned either CGMU-Subdistrict 1 or CGMU-Subdistrict 2. The primary difference between the subdistricts is that CGMU-Subdistrict 2 has more allowances for automotive businesses such as car dealers and car mechanics.
Some of the streetscaping goals from the plan have been implemented in the years since 2003. The City has done additional streetscape planning in recent years and many of the streetscaping goals from the 2003 plan have been revised. The development design standards from the 2003 plan all continue to “officially” be in effect since they are in the zoning code as a zoning district. Much has changed since 2003 and the City has plans to review the design standards in the near future to determine if any updates are needed to ensure that the quality and character of redevelopment are consistent with the community’s expectations.