The diminutive Newport Transit Station, on Highway 61 just southeast of St. Paul, is the first step in a much larger redevelopment project: it sits amid 300 acres of former industrial land that local officials hope will one day become a bustling mixed-use complex. Now a stop on an express-bus line, it is a future link to the Red Rock Corridor, a multimodal transport system that will connect the Twin Cities with their southeastern suburbs.
Completed in late 2014, the 1,900-square-foot station “needed to hold its own until the surrounding site was fully developed,” said Matthew Kreilich, principal at Minneapolis-based Snow Kreilich, the project’s architect. To that end, the firm created a long, gently sloping roof that shelters a climate-controlled, glass-enclosed indoor area and an open-air plaza. And, in order to make the station a space that would engage residents beyond its commuter base, the design team provided landscaping, seating, and other amenities that would encourage weekend uses such as a farmers market.
The $970,000 project, paid for with federal, state, county, and municipal funds, is already serving as an economic catalyst. At the end of 2016, a developer broke ground on a 42-unit affordable housing complex near the station. Ultimately, the site could support housing for up to 650 families and provide more than 100,000 square feet of offices and industrial uses.
The transit station shows, says Kreilich, that a building need not be large to have a significant impact. “I see it as a really small project with big ambitions,” he says. “It’s trying to fill a lot of different needs as that site evolves over time.”