Technical Assistance Panel (TAP)


Technical Assistance Panel (TAP)

TAPs provide an unbiased, interdisciplinary panel of volunteer real estate professionals who address a specific project, development or policy issue. Ranging from one half to two days, the workshop is preceded by analysis of background information provided by the sponsor, planning sessions, community interviews, and site tours. The panel’s findings and recommendations are documented in a written report.

Two-Day Workshop

This workshop is ideal for complex and comprehensive projects that require significant time to fully understand the issues and to formulate strategic recommendations.

Cost: $15,000

Half-Day Workshop

This workshop is ideal for projects that   require less background analysis to fully understand the issues and to formulate strategic recommendations.

Cost: $5,000

CTAP (Corridor Technical Assistance Panel)

This workshop is oriented towards development and redevelopment along transit/transportation corridors.

Cost: determined per project.

2017 TAP Impact Report

For more information contact:

Aubrey Austin, ULI Minnesota



Completed TAPs:


Grandview Green

Edina, MN

The Grandview District is a mixed-use node located near the center of Edina Minnesota. The 80+ acre district straddles MN Highway 100 and is roughly bounded by Vernon Avenue on the west and north and Eden Avenue on the south and east. This area has served as a crossroads of commerce for more than 100 years. In the earliest days of the community, the Grandview area connected the Edina milling operation with the Hopkins and Eden Prairie farming communities to the west. The area transitioned as industrial uses grew in the first half of the 20th Century. As Edina and the Twin Cities grew, many successful commercial operations located in the Grandview area – motels, dinner clubs, supermarkets and a bowling alley. Over time, the motels were replaced with mid-rise apartment buildings and the industrial uses became condominiums and modern office space. Today, the Grandview District is a community scale retail district providing many goods and services as well as many employment opportunities.

Since 2014, the Edina Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) has been exploring the possibility of constructing a green freeway cover over limited portions of Highway 100.  This ULI MN TAP report is also part of that process. The TAP panelists believe the City of Edina’s vision for the future of the Grandview Green has transformative potential, both for Edina itself and for the possibility of freeway lid projects throughout the MSP region and the state of Minnesota. If executed effectively it can create a new civic hub; provide valuable housing, commerce, and amenities; and reconnect the eastern and western sides of the City while showcasing how modern transportation infrastructure can integrate with these uses effectively. To make these ambitious goals a reality, the City and its partners (i.e. MnDOT, Hennepin County, and the Metropolitan Council) must develop mechanisms for capturing the value generated by building freeway lids and for sharing construction and maintenance responsibilities among agencies.

To read the full report, click here.

Verso Paper Mill Site

Sartell, MN

The Verso Paper Mill site was a fixture in Sartell for more than a century, dating back to the Watab Pulp and Paper company in 1905. This longstanding operation came to an end when an explosion and fire on Memorial Day in 2012 damaged the facilities beyond repair, an event that is well-remembered across the state of Minnesota. The subsequent decision by Verso to forgo rebuilding the plant and to discontinue operations in Sartell resulted in a loss of 260 jobs on top of 175 lost in layoffs six months prior to the explosion. The site was sold to AIM Development LLC which acquired it to salvage materials. All damaged structures were demolished, except for two buildings which survived the fire.

In the intervening time, the city has refocused on the paper mill site as part of the comprehensive planning process, wanting to ensure the plan aligned with the city’s long term vision for I-2 (heavy industry) properties along the river. A task force was formed, and a moratorium on new uses on I-2 properties was enacted, including the paper mill site. At the request of the City of Sartell, this TAP was convened to help inform the task force. The site has been an industrial property for over a hundred years, and the ULI Minnesota panelists believe that is the most likely future use for it as well. However, before any redevelopment will happen, it is imperative that additional environmental analysis is conducted. The site may not require remediation if it is left vacant, but new users will be expected to complete the environmental investigation and remediate contamination if it is discovered.

To read the full report, click here.


Healthy Communities Initiative: I-94 and I-35W at Washington Avenue Lid Study

Minnesota Department of Transportation

ULI Minnesota completed its biggest and most complex Technical Assistance Panel on behalf of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Under the leadership of Commissioner Charlie Zelle, MnDOT approached ULI MN with a 21st century strategy for how interstates could be rebuilt to restore connections in adjacent neighborhoods and foster new growth opportunities on MnDOT right of way. This strategy involves constructing “lids” above the roadway and preparing freeway embankments to support development.

MnDOT invited ULI MN to conduct a Technical Assistance Panel to analyze whether private sector investment would generate sufficient revenue to pay for building “lids” and other improvements and what steps MnDOT might take to make these projects a reality. ULI MN was uniquely qualified for this task through its interdisciplinary membership of professionals working in real estate, law, architecture and finance who volunteer their time and talent to help solve complex real estate and land use issues. Our panelists were excited to contribute to MnDOT’s forward-thinking approach to rebuilding interstates, and ULI MN is proud of the resulting report.

Healthy Communities Initiative Executive Summary
Healthy Communities Initiative Full Report
Healthy Communities Initiative Presentation
Appendix A: References in the Report
Appendix B: JLL – Influences and Economics of Urban Planning
Appendix C: Metropolitan Design Center – Lid Case Studies
Appendix D: Metropolitan Design Center – Health and Economic Value
Appendix E: Metropolitan Design Center – Lid Projects
Appendix F: Metropolitan Design Center – Prototypical Lid Diagrams


Metro Transit Database Tool

Metro Transit TOD Office

In 2015, Metro Transit’s TOD Office partnered with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs to explore the TOD development potential of publicly-owned parcels along several transitways. This collaboration resulted in the development of a new database tool to characterize and inventory such parcels in order to identify properties suitable for TOD. The TAP panel provided a critique of the database tool and recommend several ways for it to be more useful to the development community. The panel shared its thoughts at a public workshop designed to preview the new tool to the development community, other land use professionals and the public sector.

To read the memorandum, click here.


Gateway South District

St. Anthony, MN

St. Anthony Village is a community of increasing prosperity with growing property values, a convenient location in the metro, and a school district that entices families to move even just a few blocks to get into it. After nearly twenty years of looking at the Gateway South District as a redevelopment target, the City believes the time is right to begin taking more deliberate actions to make that happen. To that end, how can St. Anthony Village best prepare and position Gateway South for redevelopment in today’s market?

The panelists looked at existing site uses, infrastructure configurations including streets and cycling paths, and considered how the Gateway South District integrates with the surrounding community both now and in the future. They considered what types of uses would be a good fit for redevelopment, what kinds of businesses might succeed here, and steps the City can take ahead of time to be ready when private sector project proposals are presented. There was broad agreement that it is an area with great potential, though it may take a number of years to see substantial change.

To read the full report, click here.


Saint Paul Riverfront

Ramsey County, MN

Ramsey County has invested over $15 million to make the Riverfront Property site “shovel ready” by removing the buildings and stabilizing the bluff. Given the substantial commitment by the County and the prominence of the location along the Mississippi River in downtown Saint Paul, how can the County and the City of Saint Paul maximize the redevelopment potential of the site while also establishing an active public realm to integrate with other public spaces in the vicinity?

TAP participants evaluated both a proposed solicitation for a master developer for the Ramsey County Riverfront Property as well as the viability of the mix of uses the County and the City of Saint Paul envision for the site. Desired uses include residential, hospitality, retail and office as well as significant public amenities, particularly through an integration with the 1.5-mile proposed pedestrian walkway known as the River Balcony.

To read the full report, click here.


Brainerd Oaks Development Area

Brainerd, MN

How can the Crow Wing County HRA, in partnership with the City of Brainerd, Brainerd HRA and Crow Wing County get a residential subdivision (Brainerd Oaks) back on track that was conceptualized and invested in just prior to the Great Recession? That was the big-picture question that the Crow Wing County HRA and the City of Brainerd posed for an Urban Land Institute Minnesota Technical Advisory Panel in January 2016. Specifically, the TAP was asked to react to the current development plan for Brainerd Oaks and evaluate the impediments to future success.

During the half day workshop, the panel’s real-world expertise illuminated both the challenges and opportunities presented by Brainerd Oaks and, in doing so, developed concepts that may lead to the eventual success of the project.

To read the full report, click here.


Blake & Beltline Station Areas

Southwest LRT Community Works

Hennepin County through the Southwest LRT Community Works, the cities of Hopkins and St. Louis Park, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District (MCWD), and the Southwest LRT Project Office, asked the panel to review and react to the conceptual development plans for the Blake station in Hopkins and Beltline station in St. Louis Park. The Blake station review includes evaluation of plans for three specific development areas. The Beltline station review includes evaluating the costs and benefits of partnering with the Metropolitan Council Southwest Project Office on a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) guided Joint Development (JD) which is a tool used to foster transit oriented development as well as generate a revenue stream to support transit operations.

A TAP was assembled that included an interdisciplinary team of experts from the commercial, industrial and housing real estate sectors as well as the placemaking, finance, and development fields. The TAP purpose was to evaluate data, site conditions and future redevelopment readiness and to provide local policy leaders with recommendations to guide not only future land uses for the site, but also future partnerships with developers.

To read the full report, click here.


Kayak Bay

Duluth, MN

A team of ULI MN members spent the day in the City of Duluth on November 3rd where over 30 public officials and staff members were engaged in a a 2-hour dialogue focused on Navigating Your Competitive Future – ULI MN’s public officials workshop to focus on the current challenges of development and redevelopment.

After the workshop concluded, six ULI MN real estate professional rolled up their sleeves and spent the afternoon reviewing an area near Spirit Mountain to comment on and provide recommendations for collaboration related to a proposed 55-acre mixed-use development referred to as Kayak Bay.  The proposal outlines initial plans for higher-density apartments and condos, single-family homes, a hotel and restaurants across from the new Duluth Spirit Mountain Chalet.

To read the full report, click here.


Signal Hills Center

West Saint Paul, MN


This was a key theme for the TAP panel on a summer day in July 2014 as the expert team plowed through the history, community aspirations, market shifts and infrastructure challenges of Signal Hills Shopping Center and surrounding parcels. The TAP began with an evening dinner and presentation by the City policy leaders and staff, followed by a tour of the site and City. The team then spent the next full day interviewing stakeholders and then rolling up their sleeves to brainstorm and develop concrete recommendations related to positioning the City to respond to renovation and redevelopment of the Signal Hills area.

To read the full report, click here.


Midland Terrace

Shoreview, MN

The City of Shoreview chose to engage in the ULI Minnesota Technical Assistance
Panel (TAP) to help evaluate land use options for Midland Terrace. The TAP assembles
an interdisciplinary panel of experts in the real estate, planning and development fields
to explore the project, its potential for renovation and/or redevelopment and provide local
policy leaders with recommendations and site considerations to help the project move
forward. The panel will approach the assignment from all perspectives, including market
potential, land use and design, financing and development strategies, and
implementation. Panel members are ULI members and experts who volunteer their time
because of a commitment to the principles of redevelopment, planned growth, economic
expansion, and local and regional capacity-building.

To read the full report, click here.

City of Shoreview Progress Report


35W Bridge Area: A Response

Minneapolis, MN


To read the full report click here.