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Archive | January, 2013

Mlutherking

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to be remembered during Jan. 22 event

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

MlutherkingHamline University invites the public to a celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life, philosophy, and legacy on Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 4 p.m. in Sundin Music Hall (1531 Hewitt Ave.). This year’s event will reflect on Dr. King’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

The commemoration will feature President Linda N. Hanson as well as student, faculty, and staff speakers, musical selections from the Hamline University Gospel Choir, a performance from local dancer Alanna Morris (TU Dance), and a charge to the university community delivered by Keyonis Johnson (’14), vice-president of Hamline’s student group PRIDE Black Student Alliance.

This annual celebration is sponsored by Hamline’s Hedgeman Center for Student Diversity Initiatives and Programs. The Hedgeman Center helps create and sustain an inclusive community that appreciates, celebrates, and advances student and campus diversity at Hamline University. The center supports, empowers, and promotes the success of all students with particular attention to U.S. students of color, queer students, and others from historically marginalized backgrounds.

Creativity and innovation in teaching and learning are the hallmark of Hamline University—home to more than 5,000 undergraduate, graduate, and law students. At Hamline, students collaborate with professors invested in their success. They are challenged in and out of the classroom to create and apply knowledge in local and global contexts, while cultivating an ethic of civic responsibility, social justice, and inclusive leadership and service.

Hamline is the top-ranked university of its class in Minnesota, according to U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1854, Hamline also is Minnesota’s first university and among the first coeducational institutions in the nation.

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KingArthAuthor

St. Paul Library presents Winter Jackets in February

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

Saint Paul Public Library will present a month-long celebration of reading February 1-March 1. During Winter Jackets, adult library customers will have opportunities to read to win a prize, reduce their library fines by reading in the library, get reading suggestions via Facebook, and join a book club or attend an author reading.

The Community Book Review will take place Feb. 1-March 1. Library customers can read a book during the month of February, share their thoughts on a bookmark review form available at any Saint Paul Public Library, and receive a Winter Jackets coffee mug and bookmark when they return the completed form (one mug and bookmark per customer while supplies last). Each library location will display customer reviews to help other library customers discover new books to read.

Find a book on Facebook! on 1:30-4:30 p.m., Friday, February 8. Library customers can visit Saint Paul Public Library’s Facebook page, share the last three books they enjoyed, and library staff

will suggest another book they might enjoy. Visitors to Saint Paul Public Library’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/stpaulpubliclibrary, also can see what other library customers are reading.

Read Down Library Fines takes place the week of February 22 to March 1, and allows library customers 18 years of age and older with unpaid library fines to read down their fines. To participate, adults can simply stop by their local Saint Paul Public Library, check in at the information desk, and read in the library. For every 15 minutes they read, the library will take $1 off their fines (fees from rental books and DVDs are not eligible).

A.S. King, author of "How To Be a Superhero" will read as part of the Read Brave Series at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, February 27.

A.S. King, author of “How To Be a Superhero” will read as part of the Read Brave Series at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, February 27.

Library customers also can explore new reading activities during Winter Jackets — such as attending an author reading or joining a library book club. Author readings include the Fireside Reading Series, with Hans Weyandt, Wednesday, February 6, 7 p.m., and Wendy Webb, Wednesday, February 13, 7 p.m., at Saint Paul Public Library — Hamline Midway (1558 W. Minnehaha Ave, 651-642-0293). Also, Gayla Marty, author of Memory of Trees, will read on Monday, February 25, 7 p.m., at Saint Paul Public Library – Saint Anthony Park (2245 Como Ave., 651-642-0411). A.S. King, author of How To Be a Superhero will read as part of the Read Brave Series at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, February 27, Saint Paul Public Library – Merriam Park (1831 Marshall Ave., 651-642-0385).

Saint Paul Public Library book clubs meet at the following Saint Paul Public Library locations: Central, Hamline Midway, Hayden Heights, Highland Park, Merriam Park, Rice Street, Riverview, Saint Anthony Park, and Sun Ray. Visit www.sppl.org/books/book-clubs for more information.

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Recreation Center plans activities

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

Family Open Gym is every Sunday at Northwest Como Recreation Center thru March 24th from 3-5 p.m. Mens Soccer is every Sunday from 5-6:30 p.m. for a weekly fee of $5. Womens Basketball is every Sunday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. for a weekly fee of $4.

Register now for: Basketball Clinic on Tues, Jan 22nd from 9 a.m.-noon for ages 7-12 for a fee of $20. Volleyball Clinic on Tues, Jan 22nd from 1-4 p.m. for ages 7-12 for a fee of $20.

Tae Kwon Do, Archery and Cardio Kickboxing for Adults.

Free Family Skating Party on Sat., Jan 19th from 1-3 p.m.

Food Shelf Teen Dance on Fri., Feb 1 from 7-9:30 p.m. with a fee of $5. Wear your home made food costume and show your support to the food shelf by bringing a nonperishable food item. Prizes given for best food costume, hoola hooper and hokey pokey winter.

Teen Camping How To instructed by the Boy Scouts of America begins Thur, Feb 7 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. for grades 6-9 is free and runs for 10 sessions.

 

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Caregivers Support Group meets Thursdays

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

Caregivers Support Group Thurs­days 6:30-8:00 p.m., Feb. 14, Mar. 14, 1514 Englewood Avenue, St Paul, MN and continuing second Thursdays. Sponsored by Hamline Midway Elders. Lots to think about after holidays with loved ones? This group is open to anyone caring for older adults or persons any age with special needs and will be facilitated by HME staff and trained volunteers. Free, refreshments provided. Pre-registration is encouraged. For more info or to RSVP: monica@hmelders.org or (651) 209-6542.

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Jehovah Church’s “Little 90ths”

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

As Jehovah Lutheran Church, corner of Snelling and Thomas Avenue, approaches its 90th anniversary it is unrolling a series of “little 90th” care projects. With their on-going food collection for Keystone and Concordia University (CSP) food shelves, the goal is at least 90 items of food per month plus dollar gifts. So far the goal has been well exceeded. Likewise, a STOP MALARIA project, with a goal of 90 mosquito nets to be sent to Africa through Lutheran relief groups, shot past the 90 mark to 96, each net costing $10.

For January a new “90th” goal supports LifeHaven home for teen mothers and their children by aiming to gather at least 90 items needed to welcome the 16-17 year old moms and their children to the transitional home, LifeHaven, sponsored by Lutheran Social Services. When the youth arrive they receive a Welcome Basket filled with items which give them a little kick-start as they walk their road to life stability.

The church’s 90th anniversary will be celebrated in March with various events. More information also at www.jehovahlutheran.org.

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Come to the Hamline cabaret

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

Hamline Church United Methodist Women host CABARET, an Italian Dinner and Talent Show, 5:30-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at Hamline Church Fireside Room, 1514 Englewood Avenue, St. Paul. Enjoy dinner and the talents of the congregation while helping support UMW activities. Cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 12 and younger. No tickets will be sold at the door, so contact UMW to purchase in advance. Or make purchases at Groundswell Coffee, Hamline and Thomas, during regular business hours. To order or if you have questions, call 651-645-0667 or 651-646-3473.

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Hampden Park Coop

Hampden Park Coop

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

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DistrictBoundariesFeaturedStory

Como, North End discuss possible district council boundary changes

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

The organizers ran out of name tags at the Jan. 9 public meeting to discuss possible changes to District boundaries 6 and 10. The gathering attracted about 170 people, exceeding expectations and demonstrating how important an issue this appears to be to residents. (Photo by Jan Willms)

The organizers ran out of name tags at the Jan. 9 public meeting to discuss possible changes to District boundaries 6 and 10. The gathering attracted about 170 people, exceeding expectations and demonstrating how important an issue this appears to be to residents. (Photo by Jan Willms)

By JAN WILLMS

The organizers ran out of name tags at the Jan. 9 public meeting to discuss possible changes to District boundaries 6 and 10. The gathering attracted about 170 people, exceeding expectations and demonstrating how important an issue this appears to be to residents.

The District Councils were established in 1975 as a citywide citizen participation process, according to the City of Saint Paul. There are currently 17 of them, based on neighborhoods and not on population.

“Various groups of South Como residents have attempted to be redistricted into the Como Park (District 10) planning council over the past 20 years,” said Amy Brendmoen, Ward 5 councilmember.

South Como lies west of Dale Street, south of Maryland Avenue and Lake Como, east of Lexington Avenue and north of the BNSF Railroad, and it is part of Planning District 6.

Brendmoen said she has heard the request for a boundary change from an overwhelming majority of South Como constituents who have contacted her office, although a few have expressed opposition to the change.

Those numbers seemed to be reflected at the public meeting, as one resident after another spoke up for changing the boundaries. The meeting, hosted by the City’s Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) in cooperation with District 10 and District 6, was set up to hear public concerns.

Both District Councils have voted against making the boundary changes. Kim Moon, a District 10 board member, read a letter sent by the district to Brendmoen’s office.

“While we are concerned about how we will adequately serve 30% more constituents without additional City funds, of greater importance to us are the following reasons for our opposition to the proposed boundary change.

“The Council has heard limited opposition from the community to the current boundaries and does not feel there is a clear and defined reason or need for changes. This appears to us to be a top-down proposal being imposed on district councils, rather than a genuine grassroots effort.”

“In our opinion, the proposal limits citizen participation and seems counter-productive to the mission of promoting broad-based community input. The current boundaries offer a broader and more diverse perspective, allowing residents from across District 10 and District 6 to influence decisions affecting Como Regional Park.”

”The proposal shifts the focus of District 10’s activities away from representing all residents towards becoming a venue primarily for those concerned by the park. Residents, for whom the park is not a sole issue, will be further marginalized.”

“We currently enjoy a positive working relationship with the District 6 Planning Council, and support them,” Moon concluded.

He was followed by one resident after another citing their reasons for wanting a district boundary change.

“My daily life is more impacted by Como Park than by Rice Street,” one District 6 resident said.

“The swimming pool is across from my house,” claimed Art Oglesby. “Como Park has a huge influence. District 10 addresses dozens of issues related to the park, and District 6 does not address those issues.”

“I can smell Como Park and live close enough I can throw a baseball and hit its fields, but people on Maryland Avenue have more control over the area,” related a resident who has lived in South Como since 1964. He claimed that people have been trying to get the boundaries changed for a long time.

Another resident, asking for a show of hands at the meeting of those in favor of a boundary change, pointed to the evident overwhelming support. “You just saw social justice,” he said, citing St. Paul as a city of neighborhoods.

Resident Mary Wawro said she lives where she can look at the park. “I don’t blame District 6, but I look to District 10 for information,” she said.

But there were some dissenting voices. One District 6 board member said he was encouraged by the turnout at this meeting, but that he had not seen this number of people at District 6 meetings. “And this discourages me,” he said.

Lee Helgen, who was the former Ward 5 councilmember, suggested the decision to change boundaries should be weighed very carefully. “Neighborhoods get a real impact on making decisions. Having one neighborhood involved is not as good as having two.” He also expressed concern about District 6 losing funding, without funding being added to District 10.

Kim O’Brien, legislative aide to Brendmoen, said the funding formula for district councils is based primarily on population. If a district does not meet a certain population level, it receives a minimum threshold of funding from the city. District 10 receives that minimum threshold because it is so small.

The boundary changes would put more people into District 10 but not enough to raise its funding levels. And District 6 would lose some funding.

According to Kerry Antrim of the District 6 Planning Council, District 6 would only lose $3800 if the changes were adopted. “Funding was not one of the criteria District 6 looked at when we made our decision (to not support changes),” Antrim said.

Brendmoen said in an earlier interview that since the district councils were established in 1975, at least two other boundary lines have been redrawn at the request of a neighborhood group.

She said that following the Jan. 9 meeting, PED will consider testimony from the meeting, letters sent to her office, statements from an online forum and input from the two District Councils involved, and make a recommendation.

According to Michele Beaulieu, a PED representative, a recommendation will be made by Jan. 25. The City Council will make the final decision.

The District Councils were established in 1975 as a citywide citizen participation process, according to the City of Saint Paul. There are currently 17 of them, based on neighborhoods and not on population.

The District Councils were established in 1975 as a citywide citizen participation process, according to the City of Saint Paul. There are currently 17 of them, based on neighborhoods and not on population.

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JobsFeaturedStory

Job market still a bumpy experience for St. Paul job seekers

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

As with the rest of the country, there has been a lack of jobs or well-paying jobs that has made earning a living a daily struggle. In November 2012, the Saint Paul unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent, compared to a national rate of 7.7 per cent. (Photo by Bruce Silcox)

As with the rest of the country, there has been a lack of jobs or well-paying jobs that has made earning a living a daily struggle. In November 2012, the Saint Paul unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent, compared to a national rate of 7.7 per cent. (Photo by Bruce Silcox)

By JAN WILLMS

It’s been a bumpy road towards employment for St. Paul residents the past few years, and that pathway to jobs still has a few potholes before smooth pavement prevails.

As with the rest of the country, there has been a lack of jobs or well-paying jobs that has made earning a living a daily struggle. Whether a worker with lots of experience who has been laid off, a college graduate with training but a lack of experience or an entry level worker who is trying to support himself or herself, the past few years have been difficult.

In November 2012, the Saint Paul unemployment rate was 5.6 per cent, compared to a national rate of 7.7 per cent. The number of people living in St. Paul who are unemployed has dropped from 11,611 in June of 2010 to its current number of 8,210 in the statistics from November 2012 from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

These numbers show promise for individuals seeking employment, and they are reflected in some of the comments offered by agencies trying to help people find jobs.

“Things are definitely looking up, and the trend has been that way,” said Terry Middendorf, director of Career Development at Hamline University.

The university employment services are available for Hamline students and graduates.

“From the last couple of years until now, job postings at our site have doubled,” Middendorf stated. “There are a lot more opportunities coming in.”

He said his department has seen more inquiries and more positive response from employers.

“We do a lot of outreach,” Middendorf explained, “and people have been responding. Employers are calling in, and there is more activity happening.”

He said the National Association of Colleges and Employers performs an annual survey, and this year showed a 13 per cent increase in hiring from July through September.

Middendorf noted that in a broad sense, retail seems to be an area that is rebounding, and he considered that the business field in general is improving.

He also cited computer science, IT systems, health care and financial services as career fields that are offering more opportunities.

“Boom, and everything is back—that’s not going to happen,” Middendorf claimed. “It’s going to be a gradual increase in employment. You see a decrease, then it’s neutral and now it’s a positive outlook, and that’s good news. But it will happen slowly.”

He added that from a student perspective, people are finding a chance to engage and do things.

“They are actively seeking and seeing more positive results,” Middendorf said.

Although Andrea Pendleton, director of employer services at Twin Cities RISE! (TCR!), sees things from a slightly different perspective, she, too, sees a hopeful trend in the employment outlook.

TCR!, with locations in St. Paul and Minneapolis, was developed in 1993 by Steve Rothschild, former executive vice president at General Mills, to help low-income workers, particularly people of color, to find employment.

“Our program is a long-term job skills training program, with a high focus on Personal Empowerment,” Pendleton said. “We don’t teach just the skills to get a job, but also the skills to keep a job.”

She said TCR! works with entry-level employees. “We have a market-driven focus placed on employer input to ensure our students are as competitive in today’s market as possible,” Pendleton stated.

The agency has an 81 per cent retention rate of people remaining on their jobs for the first year, and a 70 per cent retention rate for the second year. These rates have continued throughout the economic downturn.

“We attribute these rates to our Personal Empowerment training and coaching model, with a heavy emphasis on employment and how to be successful in the marketplace,” Pendleton explained.

She said each student works one-on-one with a coach from the time they walk through the door through the first year of employment, and even into the second year.

“The definition of employment for us is a permanent job that pays $20,000 a year or more,” Pendleton said. “And we like benefits. Our jobs are not seasonal or temporary or minimum wage jobs.”

She explained that students enter the program earning an average of $5,880 per year, and the average salary of the job they take is $26,788 per year.

“That is a 355 per cent increase in their income,” Pendleton claimed.

She said that TCR! serves adults with the most barriers to employment and partners with employers who provide internships and volunteer opportunities.

“The students get job experience, an updated resume and new references,” she said.

Pendleton noted that employers know what a rigorous training program is offered through TCR! and understand the participants are most likely to be successful workers. Thirty-three different classes are available, ranging from forklift certification, writing, Personal Empowerment, career development and customer service to computer classes.

TCR! assists with resumes and cover letters and helps people prepare for interviews. Pendleton stressed that although TCR! gives students the tools, they make their own successes and learn to transform their lives.

Attracting businesses that do provide a living wage and benefits is a goal of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Chris Ferguson, a business owner with Bywater Business Solutions and a chair of one of the working groups of the Collaborative, said his group is in the Thrive portion of its mission.

“We want to help expand and attract new businesses into the area,” he said. “We’re working with the Neighborhood Development Center on a plan to create a strategy to provide additional financial tools for businesses to grow.”

Ferguson said the Collaborative is made up of nonprofits, business owners, the Midway Chamber and the City, all groups working together to bring in new businesses, not just to the Central Corridor but focusing on an area from Snelling Avenue to Energy Park Drive and from the Capitol to the University campus.

He said attracting more living wage jobs to the area is the group’s focus. “We’re looking at retail, but it’s also a real challenge getting manufacturing companies to come in,” he said.

Trying to meet the immediate needs of businesses and work closely with residents who are unemployed or underemployed are the goals of Corridors to Careers, a program funded by HUD and entering its third year.

“We try to help residents build up their skills and employability,” said Janet Guthrie, project manager. “And we encourage them to think beyond just that next job. We help them network and offer community learning sessions.”

The construction for light rail along the Central Corridor has had a definite effect on businesses along University Avenue.

Courtney Henry, who has eight McDonald’s franchises, three of them along University Avenue, has been affected by the light rail construction.

“We’re starting to come back, but not to where we were before construction started, “ he said. He said the three McDonalds on University have had a more difficult time through the economic downturn than the other locations.

“But traffic’s coming back a little, and we definitely will be hiring,” Henry said.

For Steve Johnson, business loan officer for the Park Midway Bank and incoming chair of the Midway Chamber, businesses are generally showing a slow but steady growth.

“I would like to say more revenues are causing that, but I think it’s more because of reduced expenses and tightening the belt,” he said. Johnson said that although the construction along the Central Corridor took its toll, more businesses are stabilizing and he is hoping there will be business development opportunities along the Corridor in the future.

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CentralCorridorFeaturedStory

Central Corridor related redevelopment well underway

Posted on 16 January 2013 by robwas66

A plan was announced in December for American Bank to sell its building at University and Snelling to Minneapolis-based Semper Development, which develops stores for Walgreens. With about 50 commercial, retail and housing developments in various stages of development along the Central Corridor light line, it appears that the promised transit-oriented development is well underway. (Photo by Stefanie Berres)

A plan was announced in December for American Bank to sell its building at University and Snelling to Minneapolis-based Semper Development, which develops stores for Walgreens. With about 50 commercial, retail and housing developments in various stages of development along the Central Corridor light line, it appears that the promised transit-oriented development is well underway. (Photo by Stefanie Berres)

By JANE MCCLURE

With about 50 commercial, retail and housing developments in various stages of development along the Central Corridor light line, it appears that the promised transit-oriented development is well underway. How that continues to unfold could affect area neighborhoods almost as much as the past few years of rail construction have.

The projects are expected to bring new buildings, new jobs and more than 5,100 housing units. The Central Corridor Management Committee reviewed the projects in December. Projects discussed are either completed, under construction or in the planning stages.

St. Paul Planning Director Donna Drummond said the city positioned itself for redevelopment with the Central Corridor Development Strategy, a comprehensive plan for future land uses all along University Avenue. That plan was followed by a zoning study, which was implemented in 2011.

“We did a lot to prepare for redevelopment and that has paid off,” Drummond said. The strategy and many of the zoning changes it led to are meant to promote transit-oriented mixed use development. Areas around transit stations are a key focus of the plan.

“Transit-oriented development is a major focus of the Metropolitan Council. We’re pleased that the new projects along the Central Corridor rail line are providing residential and commercial opportunities up and down the line so that individuals can live and work on Central Corridor,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh. One goal for redevelopment is to increase population density along the rail line.

“It’s exciting to see projects take shape,” said Metropolitan Council Member Jon Commers. He chaired the Planning Commission during much of its work on Central Corridor-related zoning and land use planning.

Most of the developments thus far haven’t encountered staunch community opposition. Most have gone forward with support from area district councils and business advocacy groups including Midway and St. Paul Area Chambers of Commerce.

“I think what we’re seeing is positive and has met a good response from the community,” said Anne White, chair of Union Park District Council’s Land Use Committee. That neighborhood is seeing redevelopment including the new 25,000 square foot Habitat for Humanity headquarters at the southeast corner of University and Prior avenues, and the expansion of the Episcopal Homes campus at University and Fairview avenues.

But there are a few red flags. In Hamline-Midway neighborhood, some residents were unhappy with the Midway Commons development on University north of Midway Center, saying they wanted to see a larger, mixed-use development. It includes a Culver’s restaurant, which opened last year, and a 10,000 square foot office/retail building that is still being renovated.

A more recent concern is a plan announced in December for American Bank to sell its building at University and Snelling to Minneapolis-based Semper Development, which develops stores for Walgreens.

Another issue being raised is how all of the new development benefits the property tax base. Jack McCann, president of University Avenue Business Association (UABA), said some of his group’s members question the amount of nonprofit development proposed along University. “Redevelopment is great and in some places it is needed, but we have to ask what that does to the tax base and how those costs are spread out among the other property owners.”

Frogtown Neighborhood Association Executive Director Tait Danielson-Castillo said there are concerns in his neighborhood about a focus on affordable housing. Some residents welcome the idea of new affordable units right on University, convenient to transit, jobs and shopping. But others question whether Frogtown, Summit-University and Aurora-St. Anthony already have their share of affordable units.

“In some ways that’s a balancing act,” said Danielson-Castillo. Residents in that neighborhood are also concerned about so many nonprofit developers and the tax base implications.

The number of nonprofit developers, especially east of Lexington Parkway, is something city officials are mindful of, Drummond said. That may be a function of where clients for programs and service live.

City officials expect overall that Central Corridor-related economic development will be a boon to the property tax base. Corridor management committee members said that is a trend that bears watching.

Committee members are also interested in tracking the number of development-related construction jobs, as well as permanent jobs created through redevelopment.

Another issue being watched is how redevelopment is financed. The Metropolitan Council has awarded nearly $8 million in various grants to help with site design and acquisition, environmental investigation and cleanup, demolition or public improvements.

The grants have been in the form of Livable Community Development Account (LCDA) grants and Tax Base Revitalization Account (TBRA) grants.

Jim Stolpestad, chairman of Exeter Realty, said light rail is the reason his company is developing the Chittenden & Eastman building near the Raymond Avenue Station. The building, which was constructed in 1917 as a furniture warehouse and store, will become the C&E Lofts historic apartments. The market-rate apartment building project has been recommended for $128,000 in TBRA funding to assist with asbestos and lead-based paint removal abatement. The Met Council will vote Jan. 11 on the grant.

“We would not be there trying to do something with that property had it not been for the light rail line,” Stolpestad said.

Funding for many of the proposed projects is an ongoing challenge city officials acknowledge. While Metropolitan Council can offer grants, city of St. Paul assistance is limited largely to tax increment financing (TIF), Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) and other grants. The city has an affordable housing trust fund, but at most that could provide only several hundred thousand or even $1 or $1 million toward a project.

“For the size of projects we’re talking about, all of which are good and worthwhile projects, this would just be a drop in the bucket,’ said Council President Kathy Lantry.

Yet another issue, raised by the development group University UNITED, is to not ignore the need to preserve the city’s industrial land base. “All of the development we’ve seen happen so far is positive but we can’t forget the need for manufacturing, especially green (environmentally friendly) manufacturing and jobs,” said UNITED Executive Director Brian McMahon. “It’s often been said that St. Paul can’t become a city of condos and coffee shops. We need to remember how important it is to promote job creation, especially in areas with good transit access.”

Of the projects recently touted in a Metropolitan Council press release, not all can be ascribed directly to the light rail line. One listed project that raised eyebrows was the newly opened Regions Hospital mental health facility, a $63 million, 100-room hospital addition.

Some of the downtown St. Paul housing projects, for example, probably owe as much to former Mayor Randy Kelly’s Housing 5,000 initiative as they do to light rail. For example, what is now the market-rate, 58-unit Lofts at Farmers Market apartment building at Fifth and Wall streets was discussed for many years before the site was developed. While the apartments have been quickly snapped up, its 3,500 square feet of commercial space is vacant. This project received $361,000 in LCDA funds.

Other renovated or new downtown St. Paul mixed-use buildings near the rail line include the Minnesota Building, Renaissance Box, the Penfield and Commerce Apartments.

One developer with two projects along University is Episcopal Homes. The senior housing and services provider was a partner in Frogtown Square/Kings Crossing at Dale Street and University. This building has 11,000 square feet of retail and 50 units of senior housing, Episcopal Homes is also planning to expand its University and Fairview campus, building on the former Porky’s restaurant site.

Other projects are in the planning stages. Project for Pride in Living plans to build about 120 units of housing and 13,000 square feet of retail on the former Midway Chevrolet site at University and Hamline. This project was awarded $750,000 in LCDA funds in December. Redevelopment of the former Old Home Dairy site at the southeast corner of Western and University is also on the drawing board, with new housing and commercial development.

Minneapolis and the University of Minnesota area also have more than 20 housing and commercial developments along Central Corridor, including several warehouse to housing conversions.

Opus Development Corp. has more than $125 million in new development on the light rail corridor with the Stadium Village Flats near Stadium Village Station at the University of Minnesota and Nicollet Residences at Nicollet Mall Station in downtown Minneapolis.

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Discovery Club