Collaborating with Stakeholders for Success: An Opus Best Practice

2/4/2016
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​With development comes change and transformation. At Opus, we believe building and navigating relationships with key stakeholders is imperative to the success of every project. Collaborating with community leaders, residents and local business groups is important not only with regard to function and desired aesthetics, but it also helps us gain a better understanding of the neighborhood’s culture and history. This is an integral part of our process, and we have found, time and time again, their insight helps us design and build better projects. 

A notable example is OXBŌ in downtown Saint Paul. Scheduled for completion in 2017, we are constructing a mixed-use luxury apartment and retail development on the former site of the Seven Corners Hardware store – an iconic fixture in Saint Paul with a rich history of serving residents dating as far back as 80 years. In recent years, the area around the store, which is adjacent to the Xcel Energy Center and a short walk from Irving Park, has blossomed into a vibrant entertainment district with numerous restaurants, bars and retail stores. Naturally, when the owners of Seven Corners Hardware decided to sell in 2013, the site and what would be constructed there was of great interest to community members.

Employing an Opus best-practice, we engaged with community members in Saint Paul very early in the development process. This involved hosting and presenting at numerous meetings with representatives of the City of Saint Paul, the Saint Paul Planning and Economic Development Department, the Saint Paul City Council and neighborhood groups Fort Road Federation and Capital River Council. Agendas included everything from the proposed mix-of-use, block diagrams, set-backs and parking, to the architectural look and feel of the property. Their input and knowledge helped shape the project, carefully balancing the neighborhood’s traditional Victorian architecture with the very contemporary Xcel Energy Center. In total, it was an 11 month process that will pay dividends for years to come for the residents of OXBŌ and the neighborhood.

Talking with members of the Saint Paul community gave us a deeper understanding of the historical significance of Seven Corners Hardware, and it proved invaluable. While preparing for construction, our construction crews uncovered several historic stone medallions on the site. About the size of dinner plates, the medallions had been embedded into the corners of the original building in the early 1900s. To honor the significant contributions Seven Corners Hardware made to the community, we plan to integrate the medallions into spaces of interest within the new building.

OXBŌ is one of the first projects in what we believe may be a dynamic redevelopment of the east end of West Seventh Street in Saint Paul, so it was incredibly important to get it right. As the transformation is beginning to take shape, the major takeaway is that we were able to create a better, more meaningful project by engaging with the community in Saint Paul.