Accessory Dwelling Unit - St. Paul

4 Replies

Does anyone have experience building/owning an ADU in the city of St. Paul, or have a good understanding of zoning laws around it?

If possible I'm interested in purchasing a single family home & renting it out, while building a small studio/1br ADU for myself when I'm in town (live in NY but family is in MN).

They are much more common in Minneapolis but have been done in St. Paul too, albeit sparingly. I do not have experience building one of these and you will be hard pressed to find someone in St. Paul who has, as it looks like between 2016 to when the 3rd article was written in 2019 only 4 ADUs were permitted there, compared to 137 in Minneapolis. The first article has a link to the original ordinance and amended ordinance in 2018. 

The main hurdle here is going to be cost and seeing if the ROI works out. In that 2019 article it said construction costs typically range from 140k to 320k. Good thing construction and material costs have down since 2019 though... oh wait. Not trying to deter you at all, this is an awesome niche that I'd love to explore too, but I think to do so you'd need to be buying in a very expensive area which allows the ADU and where rents/value added support the cost of construction. Rents are generally lower in St. Paul, although there are some nicer areas like Cathedral Hill, Mac-Groveland, Summit where you could pull 1500-2k/month for a 2 bed ADU. But then you're probably dealing with more NIMBYs when you want to get the ADU permitted, lol.

I'm gonna tag @Bruce Runn and he might be able to offer some advice, although I know he invests in Mpls specifically he may know a bit about building/zoning in St. Paul too?


@Paul Walker Hi Paul I am an architect in the Minneapolis area. Similar to what Evan said, ADU's are far more common in Minneapolis. Part of this has to do with the 2040 plan and zoning laws in Minneapolis proper. I have to admit I'm not very familiar with St. Paul but from the information I can find, they permit ADU's in the RL-RM2 and T1-T3 zoning districts within the Mounds Park area of Planning district 4, and all of Planning Districts 1, 3, 7 and 9. Hope this is helpful!

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This is a great idea! Maybe instead of building your own ADU, you could purchase a SF with a mother in law suite? I currently have a client that's doing this right now and swears by it!!

St. Paul won't allow separate licensing for each unit, they'll want you to occupy. I'm guessing a few weeks a year won't fit their requirements, but who knows? This rule makes the ADU route pretty unattractive IMO.