Ford Site Redevelopment

Sustainable Stormwater Management for a New Community in Saint Paul

The former Ford Assembly Plant in the Highland Park neighborhood of Saint Paul is one of the largest land tracts open to redevelopment in the Twin Cities. The city has a unique opportunity to redevelop 122 acres of land atop the Mississippi River bluff, and Capitol Region Watershed District (CRWD) and its partners are working to create a future for the Ford Site with clean technologies and high-quality design for stormwater management, energy, buildings and infrastructure.

The Challenge

Stormwater runoff from the former Ford site primarily drains to Hidden Falls Creek, which flows to the Mississippi River. The creek was buried and paved over prior to construction of the assembly plant. Since then, impervious surfaces at the site have sent runoff downstream without treatment, destabilizing the underground creek and carrying pollutants to the river.

“The Ford site is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply sustainable practices to a very large piece of land and take a leading role in ensuring the environmental health of the future development for many generations.” – Bob Fossum, Monitoring and Research Division Manager for CRWD

The Solution

Together with the City of Saint Paul, CRWD completed a Sustainable Stormwater Management Study to explore potential outcomes for stormwater infrastructure on the Ford site. The study lays the groundwork for future stormwater infrastructure, with one of the goals being to better protect Hidden Falls Creek. This innovative approach draws from the City’s adopted Great River Passage plan, which outlines transformation of the Ford site by featuring a stormwater-based amenity for the community that reconnects the community to parks and the Mississippi River.

The study illustrates a way to re-create the historic origin of the creek while also collecting and treating stormwater runoff for the entire site. This comprehensive approach eliminates the need for individual underground treatment systems scattered across the site. This method – called shared, stacked green infrastructure – will double the benefit-to-cost ratio and reduce the overall cost of managing stormwater on the Ford site by as much as 40 percent per acre treated, ultimately allowing for the land to be developed with greater efficiency and flexibility.

Read the Sustainable Stormwater Management Study for the Ford Site


The City and its partners like CRWD are taking the time to be intentional about planning energy, waste, transportation, landscape and water needs for the new community. While planning for the Ford site is ongoing and exact details of the stormwater management system have not yet been finalized, CRWD will continue to work hand-in-hand with residents, city officials and the master developer of the site, Ryan Company, to ensure the District’s water resources are protected.


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