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Many Merriam Park residents are attracted to the St. Paul neighborhood for its stately historic homes, endless biking and walking trails along the Mississippi River and its quick commute to both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Within Merriam Park's borders (University Avenue to the north, Summit Avenue to the south, Lexington Parkway to the east and the river to the west) are also some prestigious landmarks including the University of St. Thomas and the Eastcliff mansion, home of the University of Minnesota president.

Now a St. Paul condo developer is banking that when Merriam Park homeowners wish to downsize, they'll want to remain rooted in the neighborhood they love.

Wellington Management is building Shadow Falls Rowhouses, which are slated for completion in June, at the corner of Marshall and Otis avenues. A closed church was formerly on the one-acre site.

"The project is designed to look like a contemporary version of a traditional rowhouse," said architect Peter Keely, owner of Collage Urban Design Studio, St. Paul. The scale and style of the three buildings, which have a brick and fiber cement siding exterior, fit in the surrounding neighborhood, he said.

The three-story buildings will hold 12 one- and two-story homes, some designed with an attached private garage and windows on four sides, with views of the Town and Country Club golf course across Marshall Avenue.

"It will feel more like living in a residential neighborhood than in a big complex," said Tanya Bell, vice president of acquisitions and development for Wellington Management. "But it's also near downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul."

Merriam Park experienced a housing boom when a railroad line linked the two downtowns in 1880. The area's wide range of architectural styles include Queen Anne in the oldest sections, Colonial Revival along Summit Avenue and Tudor, Craftsman and Colonial designs following in later years.

The average sales price for a Merriam Park home so far this year is $266,156, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors.

Shadow Falls rowhouses range from $420,000 to $780,000, which is less than many of the upper-bracket homes in the area.

"We've tried to keep the cost below the value of single-family homes along East River Road, in the Shadow Falls and Mac-Groveland areas and along Summit Avenue," said Bell. Empty-nesters who plan to sell in order to move into association-maintained condos are one of the target markets.

The company started construction without presales, so all units are available. "Buyers want to see a building before making a commitment in this market," Bell said.

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619