Archive | November, 2016

District 10 News

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

By MICHAEL KUCHTA, Executive Director

Struggling with a neglected property, absentee landlord, or problem tenant on your block? Then find out how to effectively minimize their impact during a District 10 community forum on problem properties. The free forum is Thur., Nov. 10 at 6:30pm at the Como Park Streetcar Station.

The forum’s goal: get you the practical understanding and hands-on advice you need to report, track, and navigate city departments so you and your neighbors can effectively reduce the impact of properties that are a nuisance, threat, or detriment to our community.

The forum will feature:
• Officer Erik Diskerud, of the Western District FORCE Unit of the Saint Paul Police
• Inspector Joe Yannarelly, of the city ‘s Department of Safety and Inspections
• Andrew Johnson, a community member who has been dealing for years with problem properties

Put your name out there
The District 10 Como Community Council is seeking candidates to fill two board vacancies: one in Sub-District 2, one an At-Large seat. The special elections to fill the vacancies take place on Tues., Nov. 15 at 7pm, before the monthly board meeting, at the Como Park Streetcar Station.

• The At-Large seat is open to anyone who lives in District 10, which is the portion of Saint Paul bounded roughly by Snelling on the west, Larpenteur on the north, Dale on the east, and the railroad tracks between Pierce Butler and Energy Park Dr./Front Ave. on the south.

• For Sub-District 2, you must live in the area between Hamline on the west, Larpenteur on the north, Victoria on the east, and the BNSF tracks north of Front on the south.

The elected candidates will serve the remainder of the vacant terms, which expire in April 2017. Any District 10 resident at least 18 years of age is eligible to run; so are representatives from businesses or institutions in the neighborhood. To submit your name or to find out more, contact the District 10 office at 651-644-3889, or by email at district10@district10comopark.org. Write-in nominations also will be accepted from the floor the night of the special elections.

Something to look forward to
Saint Paul ‘s recycling program will undergo big changes beginning in January 2017. Among the highlights:
• Eureka Recycling will replace bins with covered, wheeled carts
• Pickup will switch from curbside to alleys
• All multi-unit buildings will have the opportunity to recycle
• Residents will get wheeled carts after Thanksgiving

We’ll keep you up to date with more details as they become available. Stay tuned to District 10’s website: www.district10comopark.org.

You’re invited to sit in
The District 10 board and standing committees meet monthly—and community members are always welcome to attend, participate, and speak or raise concerns. The schedule:
• Como Community Council Board meeting: Third Tuesday, 7pm. The next meeting, on Nov. 15, features special elections for board vacancies and a presentation by MnDOT engineer Mark Lindeberg, who will outline plans to improve pedestrian and bicycle access over the Snelling Ave. bridges between Midway Pkwy. and Hamline University.
• Land Use: Typically meets on the Monday before the first Wednesday, 7pm. The next meeting is Dec. 5.
• Neighborhood Relations and Safety: First Tuesday, 7pm. The next meeting is Dec. 6.
• Environment: Last Wednesday, 7pm. The next meeting is Nov. 30.

All meetings are at the Como Park Streetcar Station, at the northeast corner of Lexington and Horton.

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Funds sought for three local projects

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

Development Roundup

The long-awaited redevelopment of the northwest corner of University and Fairview avenues is starting to take shape. Goodwill-Easter Seals of Minnesota is seeking $50,000 in Metropolitan Council funds, to start exploring site conditions. The project was one of three submitted in late October by the City of St. Paul.

Goodwill-Easter Seals has long owned a large parking lot and other commercial properties at the corner, with only one property remaining in private hands. A sale of the Major Tire building is pending, according to a Goodwill-Easter Seals official. The nonprofit already owns other buildings and a parking lot. Recently the non-profit closed a more upscale resale store it operated in a former service station. Before Goodwill bought that property, it was Lee and Dee’s, a popular restaurant.

Long-range plans for the site include denser, mixed-use redevelopment. The properties eyed for redevelopment are south of the Goodwill facility on Charles Ave., which houses a variety of programs and a discount retail store.

Metropolitan Council provides funds for transit-oriented development projects through its Livable Communities Program, which has a demonstration account and a tax base revitalization account. Developers seek the funds through cities. Cities can submit up to three projects per funding cycle.

Goodwill-Easter Seals ranks second of two submissions for site investigation, behind Ain Dah Yung Center request for $28,500. That is for housing development in Frogtown.

A second request, for $40,000 in demonstration account funds, was submitted for the planned Lexington State Apartments on Lexington Pkwy. just southwest of Lexington and University. The funds, if awarded, would cover predevelopment costs.

The Livable Communities request was one of two the city submitted in October for major projects.

Several projects were submitted for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for contamination cleanup and investigation grants, and to the Metropolitan Council for Tax Base Revitalization Account Program. These include requested assistance for redevelopment of the former Lexington Outreach Library site at 1080 University Ave. and for the proposed RiverEast School on N. Kent St.

Lexington Station did just share in an earlier Metropolitan Council grant awards of $5.6 million. The affordable housing development, which is planned to have 243 dwelling units, was awarded $800,000 toward site acquisition.

The proposed 151-unit senior citizen housing complex, Sanctuary on Vandalia, was awarded $1.3 million for site acquisition and pollution cleanup. Iota is one of two developments near the Raymond Ave. light rail station to be funded. The other, Union Flats, received $679,865 for the same purposes. It would include 216 affordable housing units as well as two pocket parks. Both of these developments are on former industrial sites.

Vandalia Tower is for sale
First & First, the Minneapolis developer behind the successful Vandalia Tower redevelopment, is putting that property and 16 others up for sale.

The development company has transformed the former King Koil mattress factory and other old industrial properties into mixed-use developments in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The properties house offices, restaurants, a coffee house and craft breweries. The buildings combined have more than 500,000 square feet of space.

CBRE will be selling the properties. Vandalia Tower is just southeast of the University-Cretin-Vandalia intersection. Other properties are in the Minneapolis North Loop, Whittier and Minneapolis Northeast neighborhoods.

Snelling-Midway planners honored
The St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development (PED) was honored with one of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce 2016 Leaders in Local Government Awards. The awards salute made public organizations and individuals for innovation, excellence, and success.

The PED planning division was honored for its planning work on the Snelling-Midway site, its work along Green Line light rail and its planning for former Ford site redevelopment in Highland neighborhood. A Major League Soccer stadium and redeveloped Midway Center are proposed at Snelling and University, on property owned by Metropolitan Council and RK Midway.

Longtime business leader dies
Warren William Larson, a longtime business leader, and advocate in the Midway, died peacefully Oct. 21. He was 90 years old.

Larson, a Minneapolis native, was a U.S. Marine veteran. He was the founder and president of Midway Can Company, later Midway Container. He also served as vice president of the FarmOyl Company. He was active with the Midway Chamber.

He is survived by his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

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Como by the Lake apartments obtains $80 million in funds

Como by the Lake apartments obtains $80 million in funds

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin


Building1The Como by the Lake apartment (file photo right) complex’s elderly and disabled residents worried several months ago that they could lose their homes when the property went up for sale. Purchase by nonprofit housing provider Aeon staved off that possibility, and the property will remain Section 8 housing.

In October the apartments at 901 Como Ave. were the site of Gov. Mark Dayton’s announcement of $80 million in funding for affordable housing projects this year. The funds will support 57 developments and 1,831 housing units across the state. Minnesota Housing Finance Agency Commissioner Mary Tingerthal said that Minnesota doesn’t have enough housing for its needy. The $80 million is seen as a step in the right direction.

Had legislators passed a bonding bill this spring, Dayton said more funds would have been available.
Since taking over the Como building, Aeon has sought assistance. A bid for city-issued low-income housing tax credits from the city fell short in a close competition with a Summit-University project. From the state, $2.96 million in tax credits is earmarked for the Como by the Lake project itself.

Several other St. Paul projects were also funded.

Como by the Lake has provided affordable housing under the Section 8 program for 30 years. Its longtime owners wanted to sell once that contract was up. The building could have been sold and rented at market rate, displacing many residents, before Aeon stepped in. Aeon bought the building for $8.5 million in January and plans to make needed building improvements.

Liquor stores stay open longer
St. Paul liquor stores can keep their doors open until 10pm Monday through Saturday, as a result of a city ordinance change adopted Oct. 12 by the City Council.

The 8pm weekday Monday through Thursday closing has been one of the earliest in the state. The push for longer hours was championed by craft breweries, which under state law have to cease growler sales when liquor stores close. The new regulations take effect this month.

The change was brought forward by Ward Three Council Member Chris Tolbert. It drew a mixed reaction. Some liquor stores, including some in the Midway area, expressed opposition. Owners contended that the longer hours wouldn’t be profitable enough to cover the added costs. Store owners close to city borders and competitors with longer hours supported the change. That includes stores near the Roseville border.

Supporters said the longer hours are optional. Some plan to start with later Thursday hours and expand from there.

Craft brewers came out in force for the change, saying they lose beverage and food sales when customers cannot fill large bottles, called growlers, and take them home. The brewers can serve beer until 10pm. But the earlier cutoff in growler sales upset customers.

Street maintenance fees face challenge
St. Paul’s street right-of-way maintenance fees face another court challenge, according to attorneys representing property owners throughout the city. Attorneys for property owners faced off with City Council members Oct. 5 at a public hearing on the 2016 charges. The 2016 fees are due this month.
The fight already is due at Ramsey County District Court in December. Downtown churches won a round this summer at the Minnesota Court of Appeals when the court decided the fee functions as a general services tax, and not as an easement for a specific property’s benefit. The appeals court sent the issue back to district court for more review.

The fees, which vary by type of street or alley, increase 2.5 percent in 2016. The vote to approve the fee was 5-2.

The charges generate about $30 million a year, to cover costs of snow plowing, street sweeping, streetlight and sidewalk maintenance, and other related charges. Those arguing against the charges contend they are a tax and not a fee as city officials have contended for more than a decade.

Proponents believe the fees are a more equitable way of spreading the right-of-way costs around, assessing them to nonprofits and government properties.

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Candidates sought for HMC Board of Directors

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

By MELISSA CORTES, Community Organizer

Represent your neighborhood, run for the HMC Board of Directors. Declare your candidacy by Wed., Nov. 30.

Hamline Midway Coalition is seeking candidates for its Board of Directors. Anyone age 16 or older that resides within, owns property within or owns a business that is headquartered and principally operates within the Hamline Midway is eligible to run AND vote in the board elections. If you are interested in working with an informed and engaged group of neighbors to focus on local issues around transportation, development, sustainability and more, consider running for the board.

Anyone interested in running for a seat on the Board of Directors must return a completed application to the Executive Director no later than 5pm on Wed., Nov. 30. To request an application, or for more information about serving on the HMC Board of Directors, please contact Michael Jon Olson at 651-494-7682 or michaeljon@hamlinemidway.org.

Annual Meeting & Open House
This year Hamline Midway neighbors have the opportunity to connect and share their work with the Hamline Midway Coalition at the first Annual Meeting & Open House. This meeting will take place on Tues., Dec. 13, 6-8pm at Hamline University’s East Hall 106.

If you or your organization would like to share a brief summary of the programs held in the Hamline Midway at the Annual Meeting, please contact Melissa Cortes at 651-494-7683 or melissa@hamlinemidway.org.

At this Annual Meeting, HMC will hold in-person voting for its Board of Directors. Full candidate profiles and questionnaires will be posted to the HMC website www.hamlinemidway.org/elections2016 following candidate application deadlines Nov. 30. If you would like to make arrangements for in-person voting outside of those time frames, feel free to contact Michael Jon Olson at 651-494-7682 or michaeljon@hamlinemidway.org.

Midway Holiday Pop-up Shop
Start checking-off your holiday shopping list with gifts that have a Midway twist. This year, it’s easier than ever to shop locally for the holidays. The Midway Holiday Pop-up Shop will be held on Small Business Sat., Nov. 26, at The Celtic Junction, 836 Prior Ave, from 10am-4pm.

You’ll find dozens of local businesses, crafters, artisans, and artists—all from in and around the Midway area—selling a wide range of local goods and gifts for everyone on your shopping list. Santa Clause himself will be showing his support for local businesses, too. He’ll be dropping in between 10:30am and 12:30pm. So, bring the kids to share their wishes, and enjoy live music and carols, holiday baked goods and drinks—all while you support our local businesses, and fill your holiday list with gifts from close to home.

Want to be a sponsor or volunteer of this well attended event? Contact Greg Anderson at 651-967-1181 or gregs_pc_repair@yahoo.com.

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Virtual Reality Arcade opens its first TC location in Vandalia Tower

Posted on 08 November 2016 by Calvin

Voxel announces the opening of its first Twin Cities location, which offers a high-end, curated experience for a special event or an unforgettable night out. The Voxel team, headed by three Minnesota locals, will hold a public open house on Sat., Nov. 12, from 6pm until midnight at its newly renovated space in Vandalia Tower, 550 Vandalia St., Suite 218. The Grand Opening event will feature a suite of custom hardware solutions and a library of cutting-edge experiences to bring the best of VR to the Twin Cities.

The parlor boasts a captivating, immersive environment in which to explore several different virtual worlds. Each of the three Virtual Reality areas in the parlor can be reserved for private parties, allowing the group to snack, socialize, and spectate as individuals interact with the virtual surroundings. With a newly remodeled space and customized equipment allowing a wide-range of free movement, Voxel offers a fun, mesmerizing group experience that will not be found in most living rooms. Voxel allows the ability to explore the expansiveness of VR without a huge up-front investment from users.

Voxel is committed to evolving with the emerging Virtual Reality technology. They hope to support developers in creating content, make VR accessible to a broad range of people, and ensure that a wide audience can experience VR in its best form.

More information on the Open House and reserving a free 15-minute demo can be found at www.facebook.com/voxelvrp.

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