The Big Story Blog

Writing the next chapter for St. Paul's Ford plant site

Posted at 9:00 AM on November 10, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Economy

(MPR Photo/Matt Sepic)

We know how it ends: On Dec. 16, the last Ranger pickup truck will roll off the line at St. Paul's Ford Plant, 86 years after the first car there was built.

But after the manufacturing gear is pulled out and the buildings demolished, who writes the next chapter of the Ford Plant site? What will it be?

We'll be asking those questions and trying to find some answers today on Big Story Blog. We'll be featuring a lot of the comments we get today across MPR News social media. Whether you're on Google+ , our Facebook page or at our website, tell us what you think is the best move.

Certainly, we've had plenty of time to plan. The St. Paul plant was first told in 2006 of Ford's plans to close it within two years. The Ranger truck, though, caught a second wind with consumers and the company continued to push back the closing date.

Political efforts to get Ford to reuse the plant for a new generation of "green" cars fell short.

What might replace it on top of that Mississippi River bluff? Could it be cleaned up for housing? (By that time the market should be recovered, right?)

My favorite idea remains one that came up in 2007 -- a Google server farm.

Ed Kohler made an intriguing case in an open letter to Google, arguing the tunnels beneath the Ford plant -- dug to mine silica to make glass for Ford vehicle windows in the early days of the plant -- would be a great place for a "secure, climate controlled environment for a data center." has this photo posted on its website:

A shot taken from the dual freight elevator area, back toward the twin entry shafts. - 6/9/1937

The future's unwritten. What should be done with the Ford plant site? What have other cities done when the car company leaves? We'll look into. Share your ideas below.

About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.

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