5 Minutes with Louie Jambois
Louie Jambois, president and chief executive officer of the Saint Paul Port Authority, has more than 35 years of experience in developing and implementing community financing programs at the federal, state and local levels. He has extensive experience with legislative policy creation, innovative development financing, and initiation of collaborative efforts between public and private entities.
As president, Jambois leverages the Port’s strengths in redevelopment, business and workforce development with similar expertise among a myriad of economic development partners and continue to develop and diversify Saint Paul and the East Metro.
- The status of the former Macy’s building continues to hold a great deal of interest for the downtown St. Paul community. What is the latest on this property?
We are continuing to pursue our multi-purpose strategy in the reuse of the existing Macy’s building. We have received considerable interest from different groups looking either to redevelop the building or to locate their operations there. We hope by years’ end to have a project in which all of us will be proud.
- Why is the Macy’s site so important to the St. Paul CBD and why did the Port Authority step in to purchase this property?|
The Port’s interest in the Macy’s property is the same as the City’s, the downtown business community, as well as the greater Saint Paul community; we all want a vibrant downtown. When the first two potential developers of the site failed to close on the building’s purchase, we bought the building to ensure the redevelopment would fuel — and not derail — the City’s strong economic development momentum.
- In your opinion, what does the downtown community need to do over the next 5-10 years to drive growth in the CBD?
The short answer: the same thing. Over the past five year, at least, all of the partners in downtown economic development have worked closely together to reinvigorate the downtown. Public and private sector leaders have never been more focused on this effort.
- Can you share any updates on other Port projects, such as the former Saint’s Stadium site?
As you know, we helped the City of Saint Paul purchase the former Diamond Products building in Lowertown for a new regional ballpark in return for title to the Midway Stadium site in our Energy Park Business Center. We and our joint venture partner, United Properties, have received substantial interest in the Midway site and can’t wait to get started once the Saints move to their new home downtown.We also are moving ahead with two new developments in our Beacon Bluff Business Center: Loomis Armored Car’s new facility is nearly ready to be occupied, and we have substantial interest nearby in our joint venture development with Interstate Partners.
The Saint Paul Port Authority is a local economic development agency created by the Minnesota Legislature 82 years ago to take advantage of, what was then, a new lock and dam system, which made the Mississippi River a commercially viable liquid highway. The primary activity of the Port today is repurposing previously developed land. Our job is to buy land that has generally been ignored or abandoned by the market place, demolish (usually, but not always) the obsolete or dilapidated structures that are on the property, clean up the contamination left by the previous users, install new infrastructure and sell the land for new business development.
The result of this effort has been dramatic. We’ve recycled nearly two square miles by creating 21 business centers in Saint Paul. Those business centers are home to 555 businesses and nearly 24,000 good-paying jobs with benefits that support households. The businesses are in high-quality, attractive, environmentally advanced buildings on nicely landscaped lots. Those businesses pay about $31 million in property taxes annually and those taxes support Saint Paul’s police and fire departments, parks and recreation activities, and our great libraries, among many other services.