Archive | July, 2018

2030 p20a

Updates for 2030 Snelling and Westgate areas being discussed

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

The Snelling Station Area 2030: This model illustrates one possible long term scenario for meeting these community, place-making and transit-supportive opportunities. It principally describes a vision for the Snelling Station Area as a vital hub of commercial activity along the corridor with an expanded street and block system; an enhanced public realm network and active main streets. Rather than attempting to predict the location and distribution of anticipated long-term investment, this conceptual model illustrates the application of transit-supportive principles throughout the entire Station Area. The total development yield illustrated is therefore not meant to be representative of the 2030 market forecast (Figure 2.2) for this Station Area, but demonstrates one possible example of transit-supportive developments for each individual parcel. (Illustration from the Update Draft of the Snelling Station Area Plan)

A decade ago, many area residents and business owners made regular trips to the former Lexington Outreach Library at 1080 University Ave. to work on plans for Green Line station areas. They gathered around maps and scale models, armed with sticky notes and ideas. Now those plans are changing at the Snelling and Westgate areas, to focus on how parks and open space have changed in response to recent development.

Illustration right: The Boulevard will transform Snelling Ave. with wider sidewalks, street trees and active ground floor uses such as shops, cafés, and office building lobbies at street level. (Illustration from the Update Draft of the Snelling Station Area Plan)

The station area plan for Snelling is one of two soccer stadium-related changes the Planning Commission has been working on. The commission approved sign ordinance changes June 29 and sent them on to the City Council for a final public hearing this summer, to allow more advertising signs at Allianz Field and at the new Treasure Island ice arena downtown.

The other change, to “public realm” for Snelling and Westgate station area plans, will be the focus of a public hearing at 8:30am, Fri., July 27 at City Hall.

City Planner Anton Jerve said the changes reflect redevelopment in both areas. Since the station area plans were adopted almost a decade ago, much has changed, he noted. That’s especially true at Snelling and University, where an ambitious new master plan to redevelop the Midway Center superblock won City Council approval two years ago.

Westgate Dominium Development’s plans for senior and workforce housing on the former Weyerhaeuser lumber yard site include trails and park space, which will be reflected in the new plan.

Illustration left: The large public open spaces Midway Square and Victory Plaza between University Ave. and Allianz Field stadium are planned for activities that range from passive recreation to festivals, farmers markets, and food trucks. (Illustration from the Update Draft of the Snelling Station Area Plan)

At Snelling, the stadium development plans call for two large green spaces between the stadium and University Ave., Victory Plaza and Midway Square, as well as smaller green spaces along St. Anthony. A United Champion Plaza is planned at the northeast corner of Snelling and St. Anthony avenues.

What was envisioned as the Snelling Transit Plaza at the southeast corner of Snelling and University avenues is now labeled “the boulevard.” One line of the plan revisions states “The boulevard will transform Snelling Ave. with wider sidewalks, street trees and active ground floor uses such as shops, cafés, and office building lobbies at street level.”

Other changes reflect alterations in the street grid in both station area plans, and elimination of references to groups that no longer exist, such as the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.

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Kent Krueger Desolation Mountain slider

It’s back to the North Woods for series #17: ‘Desolation Mountain’

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

As he celebrates his 20th year of writing the Cork O’Connor series of books, William Kent Krueger (photo right by Jan Willms) has discovered where the magic lies in his story-telling.

“There’s magic involved in the creative process, and every writer’s going to tell you that,” he said in a recent interview. “And you don’t want to monkey with the magic you have found. In my earlier days what worked magically for me was writing longhand.”

Krueger has always written in coffee shops, and when he created his primary character, an Ojibwe-Irish private detective, there were no laptops. “If I was going to be mobile and writing in coffee shops, I had to write in notebooks with a pen, and that became part of the magical process for me,” he recalled. “So, when I decided to see if I could compose directly on a laptop, and once that became a possibility, it was a huge issue for me. But I tried it and discovered that there is a different kind of magic at work that doesn’t have anything to do with how I get the words out.”

Instead, he discovered it was about finding the good, compelling seed of an idea, letting that take route in his imagination and grow over time so that eventually, he saw the whole of it. “I know how a book begins, I know how it ends, I know who did what to whom and why. And that’s really where the magic is,” Krueger said.

That magic has worked for Krueger from the time he wrote his first Cork O’Connor novel, “Iron Lake,” through today as he publishes his 17th in the series, “Desolation Mountain,” scheduled to be published Aug. 21.

Along the way, he has written other books and stories, including his stand-alone novel, “Ordinary Grace,” which garnered him numerous awards. He has also won many awards for his O’Connor books, and his last three novels have been New York Times bestsellers.

Some things have changed for Krueger since he penned “Iron Lake” 20 years ago. “It’s probably every writer’s dream that at some point you can support yourself and your family by writing. That certainly has proved true for me; it’s a dream come true.”

Krueger also claimed his writing has taken him places. “I know Minnesota probably better than anybody, except maybe the Tourist Bureau. I have gone to so many towns in Minnesota. I believe visiting the libraries there is an important part of what those of us who are artists, writers, visual artists, dancers, and musicians have to be doing to give back. Because Minnesota is so incredibly supportive of the arts.”

Krueger spends much of his time traveling out of state as well, doing some research and more often, doing book tours and events. He has keynoted writer’s conferences and conventions in Wyoming, Aspen and Reno the last couple months and will be going to Pennsylvania and Florida later this summer. “I go to a lot of places I wouldn’t go otherwise, and that’s one of the blessings,” he related.

The settings for nearly all of the O’Connor books is in Minnesota, although Krueger’s last novel, “Sulfur Springs” took place in Arizona.

For his newest book, Cork O’Connor is back in the town called Aurora, MN, in the North Woods.

“One of the expectations of the readers of the Cork O’Connor novels is that the story is going to unfold in the North Woods, up in the Arrowhead. I couldn’t stay away from there,” Krueger said. “Another expectation is that I’m going to offer them some significant information on the Ojibwe culture. So I knew I had to do that, bring the readers back to what was familiar and expected on their part.”

He said his main character, Cork, has certainly grown as the series has developed. “His shoulders have become broader, and the issues he has had to deal with have become many and varied. But his basic response to life remains the same, and I think that’s where we are very similar,” Krueger stated.

“A lot of things have happened,” he continued, “but my basic philosophy of life hasn’t changed at all. My own belief is that there is a moral compass, and most of us do our best to follow it. That’s certainly true of Cork, and most of the people with whom he operates.”

Krueger said that what the reader finds in the stories is that there’s a force that’s trying to throw that compass off. “I think that’s fairly typical of any book in the mystery genre,” he said. “It’s about a world that has harmony in it, and something interferes with that harmony. It’s the task of the protagonist and those who work with him to bring things back into harmony, and reset the moral compass back to where it needs to be.”

Henry Meloux, the Anishinabe elder who provides both serenity and wisdom, is the moral center of Krueger’s books. In “Desolation Mountain” Stephen, Cork’s son, is trying to envisage who he wants to become. “Stephen is trying to discover himself a lot in this particular novel,” Krueger noted. “As I see the series going forward, I see Stephen more and more stepping up and becoming a visionary, what he was born to be. In the same way, across the series, Cork has had to accept what he is. He’s a warrior, and he has battled and fought against that and the sacrifices he has had to make, the effect it has on those he loves. Finally, in the last three books, he has embraced it. …and there is Henry, who is at the heart of both of their lives, and who is trying to help guide them.”

Over the years, Krueger has deeply developed the sense of place and the personalities of his characters. “If you’re going to have readers really care about your characters, you’re going to have to care about them too, even the ones who do bad things. You have to be able to understand why they do the bad things that they do,” Krueger said.

“We all have the potential inside us for doing terrible things,” he continued. “But it’s that moral compass or our upbringing or the strictures of our society that keep us in check. But there are those who for whatever reason break away from that and behave in ways that are destructive. As a writer, you have to figure out why these people are behaving this way, and deal with an understanding of that so that all of the characters are as complex as real people are.”

Krueger said he can go to the coffee shop in the morning, work hard for a couple of hours and leave. He returns in the afternoon, again works hard creatively for a couple of hours. “Then I’m pretty much done,” he said. “For me, it’s a dissociative process in a way. I have to be with these characters and imagine them well enough to where I can empathize with whatever it is they are experiencing. I have to be able to understand that deeply.”

Krueger said he has never encountered writer’s block. “I have always found a way to forge ahead,” he said. “But what has happened is that I have gone in a wrong direction. This was really true of the first attempt I made in writing the companion novel to ‘Ordinary Grace.’ I wrote an entire manuscript that didn’t work. I wrote the wrong story.”

That does not happen with the O’Connor novels, though.

“I approach those in a very different way, consciously thinking the story out so that I know where it’s going,” Krueger said.
In his second attempt for the companion novel, “This Tender Land,” Krueger believes he has the right story, and he is very happy with it. That book is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2019.

Krueger said he is hoping to celebrate the launching of “Desolation Mountain” and the 20th anniversary of “Iron Lake” at the same time. A new edition of “Iron Lake” with a new cover is being published. Krueger said that for now, he is taking a little break. “I had two deadlines weighing on me heavily, for “Desolation Mountain” and “This Tender Land.” I was under a great deal of pressure this spring. I have a little breathing space now, so I’m working on something else entirely to kind of cleanse my pallet—but it is a book,” Krueger admitted.

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Bremer Bank bldg slider

Wellington explores new 175-unit apartment complex on Snelling

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

The building boom continues along Snelling Ave. A 175-unit market-rate apartment building with first-floor retail could rise just west of the Allianz Field Major League Soccer stadium. Wellington Management, located in the Midway at 1625 Energy Park Dr., would like to start its $35 million project in spring 2019, the Union Park District Council land use committee and several dozen neighbors were told June 18. Construction would take about one year.

The building, which could be four to five stories tall, would continue a trend of redevelopment along Snelling Ave. It would replace the current Bremer Bank at 427 N. Snelling Ave., and possibly a small piece of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) property south of the bank.

Photo right: Wellington Management is discussing the idea of a 175-unit apartment development on the site of Bremer Bank at Shields and Snelling—at the right of the photo. Central Baptist Church is to the left. (Google Map Satellite image)

The property eyed for redevelopment is zoned for traditional neighborhoods three use, which would allow five stories. Additional height could be granted through a conditional use permit process.

The St. Paul-based developer and property manager has discussed the project with bank officials and the adjacent Central Baptist Church for several months. Bremer would like to be part of the new development, as a retail tenant. One of the other prospective tenants is Walgreens, which vacated its longtime Midway Center space last year.

David Wellington, director of acquisitions and development for Wellington Management, cautioned that the project would have its challenges. He is seeking community input early on to mitigate potential issues. “The project could have significant neighborhood impact, and we’re cognizant of those impacts,” he said.

Wellington said the project could also bring needed housing to an area where residents could enjoy convenient access to Green Line light rail and A Line rapid bus. He emphasized that the project isn’t intended to be luxury housing. “We will be marketing to a demographic that wants to live close to transit, and that really likes to bike.”

Before joining the family firm, Wellington lived and worked in Seattle in real estate development. There he saw what gentrification can do to a community, citing the “significant and negative” impacts. The company would like to avoid that with its Snelling project.

Central Baptist Pastor Joel Lawrence said church leaders have discussed the development with Wellington for several months. The church, which just celebrated its 125th anniversary, has been at the southeast corner of Shields Ave. and Roy St. for 105 years.

Lawrence said the church wants to continue to be a community asset. But its oldest part of the building dates from 1913 and is nearing the end of its useful life. The church also lacks parking, with just four off-street spaces. The congregation currently uses the Bremer Bank lot for services. Continued shared parking and possible rehabilitation and reuse of the 1913 church building are among ideas being discussed.

Land use committee members and neighbors had mixed reactions to the project. Building drawings haven’t been completed, so some said it was difficult to react to the proposal.

Several people praised the project for its proximity to transit. But some raised concerns about traffic, spillover parking and first-floor retail design. Representatives of a neighboring church, Bethlehem Lutheran in the Midway, also said they want to be involved.

Land use committee members questioned how a new drive-through would work. The bank currently has four drive-through lanes. But Wellington said drive-through service is important to both bank and pharmacy businesses and that the project may not happen if Walgreens isn’t a part of it. It’s not clear how many lanes would be in the building’s first floor and how that would be designed.

The project would have about 18,000 square feet of first-floor retail, which could house up to four tenants. If Walgreens comes in, it would need about 10,000 square feet for its store, Wellington said.

But both Bremer and Walgreens would need drive-through service, which would add a wrinkle to the project.
MnDOT would be required to weigh in on the project as Snelling is a state highway.

Land use committee member Paul Bakke recalled the fight over CVS at Snelling and University. Neighbors pushed for windows looking out onto the street. But CVS balked, noting it needed wall space for merchandise shelves and cases. “What I am hearing here could be analogous to that,” he said. “Windows are really important to adding life to the street and having a better pedestrian experience.”

Wellington said that will be considered but that the developer will also have to work with specific national standards dictated by the retailer.

Parking is another issue. The development would have about 180 parking stalls. Underground parking is likely for residents. Ideas to provide surface parking are being considered.

One idea being discussed with Central Baptist is to remove two church-owned houses south of the church on Roy St. That could allow for the creation of parking to be shared by the church and the new development, possibly in a ramp. But neighbors at the meeting said that removing the homes would displace residents.

Wellington Management, Inc. owns and manages a $400 million portfolio of more than 100 properties in 23 Twin Cities communities, totaling more than four million square feet. The company has recently developed new housing, totaling about 800 new units. One project is near Hiawatha Ave. and Lake St. in Minneapolis. The company is also doing work in the Harrison neighborhood in North Minneapolis.

“When we build a building we operate it,” said Wellington. “We care about what we build.”

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Bell Museum 01 slider

Bell Museum plans mammoth grand opening weekend July 13-15

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

The new Bell Museum features 60% more public space than its previous location. Located at the intersection of Larpenteur and Cleveland avenues, the museum proudly features local, sustainably sourced materials such as white pine from Cass Lake, granite from south central Minnesota, steel from the Iron Range, native plants from across the state, and bird-safe glass manufactured in Owatonna. Total cost for the new museum is $79 million, and came from a combination of state funding, the University of Minnesota, and private donations. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

The long-awaited grand opening of the Bell Museum in its St. Paul Campus location will take place July 13-15. The museum has spent nearly three years building its new facility at 2088 Larpenteur Ave. W., and it appears to have been well worth the wait.

Minnesota’s official natural history museum had occupied its University of Minnesota East Bank site in Minneapolis since 1940. Executive Director Denise Young said, “We’ve been a portal to the natural world in this state for more than 100 years. With our move and expansion, we’ll be re-interpreting the best of our old collection while bringing science, art, and nature together in truly extraordinary ways.”

That’s a mammoth claim, but no one is better equipped to make good on it than the Bell Museum. One of the many impressive acquisitions they’ve added to their collection recently is a replicated woolly mammoth, identical to one that might have roamed across Minnesota long ago. Manufactured by Blue Rhino in Eagan, the woolly mammoth arrived in three massive sections and was reassembled in the Pleistocene Minnesota Gallery last month.

Photo right: One of the hallmarks of the Bell Museum is being at the intersection of art and science. Each diorama features three small sculpted elements that can be touched. In this tundra swan diorama, visitors can have a tactile experience of feeling a Blood Root leaf, a snail, and a moth, all of which appear in the diorama. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Another notable addition to the museum is a film created and produced by Minnesota photographer Jim Brandenburg. The film is called Images from Home: Jim Brandenburg’s Minnesota. Brandenburg’s still photographs are also featured prominently throughout the museum and greatly enhance the sense that this place is both of, and about, Minnesota’s natural history.

The permanent exhibition galleries guide visitors from the origins of the universe, through the evolution of life on earth, to the formation of Minnesota’s diverse habitats. Museum staff estimates that 110,000 people will visit the facility in its first year, and that half of those will be students in grades K-12.

The museum’s beloved dioramas, designed and painted by Minnesota artist Francis Lee Jacques, have never looked better. Painstakingly removed from their original cases in the University of Minnesota’s East Bank location, the paintings have been cleaned and reassembled with all the other diorama elements. They’re now enclosed behind non-glare glass, and lit by controllable LED bulbs that effectively simulate the light levels of different times of the day. Ten large and 35 small to mid-size dioramas are on view. A natural soundscape fills the diorama galleries as well.

Another mainstay of the Bell Museum is the Touch and See Room. When it was built in 1968, it was the only discovery room of its kind in the U.S.—a place where visitors could get up close and personal with specimens. “After a hiatus of 18 months,”Manager Jennifer Menken said, “we’ll be bringing back our popular monthly Sketch Night when visitors can come to the Touch and See Room, choose an artifact from the collection, and (using their own art materials) practice sketching or painting. Sketch Night is included in the cost of admission. The museum will be open late one Monday each month, and Sketch Night will take place then. The first meeting will be on Mon., Aug. 20, 6-8pm. No pre-registration is necessary.”

To help deliver its expanded programming, the Bell Museum is actively seeking new volunteers. Docents, educational assistants, and collections cataloguers are needed, as well as citizen scientists interested in recording phenology, climate change, and more. Contact Volunteer Coordinator Kate Sigurdson at ksigurds@umn.edu with questions, or to learn about upcoming volunteer training sessions.

Details on the opening night party and special weekend hours can be found at www.bellmuseum.umn.edu. For general information, visit the website or call 612-626-9660. General admission $12; senior (65+) $10; youth (3-21) $9; children (0-2) free; UMN student (with student ID) free; Bell Museum members are always free. Parking is available on-site for $4. Open daily from 10am-5pm, with occasional late night hours until 9pm (check website).

The Bell Museum strives to be a fully-accessible facility. To request an accommodation, please call the accessibility office at 612-624-4268 or email crfrey@umn.edu.

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PowerPoint Presentation

Survey takes a holistic look at Hamline Midway history

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

Information provides HUNAC with a strong foundation to better understand the neighborhood

While a lot has changed in the Hamline-Midway area, some things remain the same.

The places that have stayed the same are the subject of the St. Paul Hamline-Midway Neighborhood Historic Resources Survey that is just wrapping up.
Residents learned about the historic survey during a Hamline University Neighborhood Advisory Committee (HUNAC) on June 18.

“It’s been 35 years since anyone took a holistic look at the neighborhood,” pointed out Christine Boulware of the St. Paul Department of Planning and Economic Development. (Photo right by  Tesha M. Christensen)

“I think it’s important to have a strong foundation for who we are,” observed HUNAC Co-Chair Mike Reynolds, who is an English professor at Hamline University. Knowing the history of the neighborhood helps provide that, as well as the character of the place, he added.

Survey gives overview
Conducted by Summit Envirosolutions, Inc., the Hamline Midway reconnaissance survey area includes the geographic boundaries of District 11: Pierce Butler Route, Lexington Pkwy., University Ave., and Transfer Rd. This area includes about 3,000 properties, and the survey focused on 515. Of those, 182 had been previously inventoried and 12 torn down.

The study included five schools, one university campus, one public library, nine parks and playgrounds, ten religious properties, and one barn, along with single-family homes, multi-family homes, and commercial buildings.

The majority of the project was funded through a federal grant, while the remaining 37.5% came from a cash-match from the city’s Department of Planning and Economic Development.

The survey is intended to provide a baseline comprehensive overview of historic resources, explained Summit Envirosolutions, Inc. Architectural Historian Sara Nelson.

The last assessment like this, the St. Paul and Ramsey County Historic Sites Survey, was conducted 35 years ago as a part of a city- and county-wide inventory.

According to the Minnesota Historic Preservation Office, the intention of a reconnaissance-level survey “is to collect enough data to provide a general understanding of the built environment of an area. The survey is intended to characterize the properties in relation to historic contexts and makes recommendations for additional intensive survey work.”

The contexts evaluated by Summit Envirosolutions included residents, homes, transportation, automobile services, worship, education and culture, parks and recreation, entertainment, and industry.

Some of the transportation routes in the area predate the incorporation of St. Paul, as the city limits originally only extended to Lexington. The area once was part of Rose Township and divided into farm tracts. In fact, the 1973 Territorial Road survives as the alley between Van Buren and Blair.

The earliest white settlers in the Hamline-Midway area were Yankee-Old Stock American, Canadian and German immigrants from the 1870s to 1880s. This was followed by an increase in German and Irish populations from the 1880s to 1890s. The Scandinavian immigrants arrived between 1890 and 1920 and were followed by the Russian and Polish immigrants between 1910 and 1920.

Photo left: In 1935, the university’s football field was sold and developed as Paust’s Rearrangement. This development that consists of 25 houses were designed by Benjamin A. Paust in a variety of picturesque Cottage styles and built between 1935 and 1939. “It’s really unusual to have a block like this all developed by the same person in the same style,” said Summit Envirosolutions, Inc. Senior Architectural Historian Marjorie Pearson. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

“All these residents were attracted by transportation routes, business, and industry opportunities,” observed Summit Envirosolutions, Inc. Senior Architectural Historian Marjorie Pearson. “It was one of the fastest growing areas of St. Paul.”

Swedish, German carpenters built most neighborhood homes
One of the things historians were struck by recently was how many of the Swedish and German residents were contractors. They left their mark on the city’s buildings. While some of the homes in the area were designed by architects, most were the project of local carpenters, observed Pearson.

One of the earliest houses in the area sits at 877 Fry St. It may have been shifted around on the site over the years. The Budd house at Minnehaha and Wheeler dates from 1890 and was owned by George and Harriet Budd, who were prominent in civic affairs.

The Schaettgen house at 754 Hamline Ave. was built 1907, and son-in-law Merten lived next door at 762 Hamline Ave. in a home built in 1923.

John Hasslen built his house at 1383 W. Edmund Ave. in 1912. He had come to the area as a small boy with his family, and followed in his father’s footsteps as a carpenter, according to Pearson. By 1910, he was working on the well-known Hill House and Sibley House.

The primary home styles are Victorian, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, Foursquare, and Colonial Revival. Home characteristics include hipped and gabled roofs, corner towers, projecting bays, open porches, decorative wood detailing, and certain types of window patterns.

In comparison to other parts of the city that have been designated as historic districts, the homes in the Midway area tend to be more modest and practical, according to Boulware. They were designed for single families for the most part. The larger would have taken in boarders and lodgers, many of them students from Hamline.

Two areas of study
Hamline University was one of the linchpins of establishing the neighborhood, observed Pearson. The earliest buildings on campus date from the 1880s and 1890s, while later buildings have been designed by distinguished modern architects.

In 1935, the university’s football field was sold and developed as Paust’s Rearrangement. This development that consists of 25 houses were designed by Benjamin A. Paust in a variety of picturesque Cottage styles and built between 1935 and 1939.
“It’s really unusual to have a block like this all developed by the same person in the same style,” said Pearson.

Another area identified for study was the College Place West and Taylor’s Addition with 232 residential properties between Fairview and Fry. It includes Hewitt, Hubbard, and Englewood avenues. Both plats extended across the varied slopes of the landscape and lots retain many oak trees from the original oak savannah that distinguishes the neighborhood.

‘Automobile Row’
Once known as “Automobile Row,” in 1946 there were 14 new car dealerships along University Ave. between the Capitol and the Midway’s Transfer Rd. Several used-car dealerships and auto service garages also sprung up along University and Snelling. Some of these buildings remain, and a few, including 675 N. Snelling, are still being used in the auto service industry.

Photo left: The automotive shop at 675 N. Snelling was built in 1920. The image on the left dates from 1930. (Photos courtesy of Summit Envirosolutions, Inc.)

Nine railroad lines consolidated in the Midway neighborhood and made it a prime place for industry. The American Canning Company remains and is now part of the International Harvester Company. This company and the Brown, Blodgett and Sperry Company were recommended for additional study.

Eligible for historic status
The individual properties and areas of the neighborhood identified in the survey may be designated as St. Paul Heritage Preservation sites and listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP)—both of which would happen as a separate project, after intensive survey and detailed research.
Pearson pointed out that properties are eligible for the national register if they meet one of four criteria:
• A: association with significant events or patterns in history
• B: association with significant persons in history
• C: significant architectural design or architect
• D: likely to provide important new information in history

This includes individual property (building, site, structure, object) or a historic district. It’s important that the area retains historic integrity in location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association.

Benefits of listing include federal and state preservation tax credits (income-producing properties), eligibility for grants, and consideration in planning for federal projects. There is no loss of individual property rights.

Town House Bar and Midway Books
The map of surveyed properties isn’t quite final yet, according to Nelson. There are a few more properties to add in, and there may be a few more recommended for further study.

Photo right: The image on the left shows the Town House restaurant in 1952. It was built in 1924. In 1969 the Town House bar was established as a gay bar, and it has been recognized as the oldest LGBT bar in the city. (Photos courtesy of Summit Envirosolutions, Inc.)

“The Town House Bar will be recommended for further study for local designation—something we hope the new owner will be perceptive to (and not change much inside or out)!” stated Nelson.

In 1969 the Town House bar was established as a gay bar, and it has been recognized as the oldest LGBT bar in the city.
“The Quality Park (Midway Books) Building at the northeast corner of Snelling and University is eligible for listing in the NRHP, which means it is eligible for state and historic tax credits for rehabilitation,” Nelson added. “Its NRHP nomination has been completed for several years (but the current owners weren’t interested in listing it). I doubt many potential buyers/developers/commercial realtors know about the building’s eligibility.

“It’s so close to the new stadium; I hope any redevelopment efforts on that corner don’t include tearing it down!”
Learn more about the project and HUNAC at www.hamline.edu/neighbors/neighborhood-advisory-committee.

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Lyngblomsten Mid-Summer Festival takes center stage July 20

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

Lyngblomsten, a senior care organization serving older adults since 1906, invites the community to attend its annual Mid-Summer Festival on Fri., July 20, 2-8pm, on its St. Paul campus, 1415 Almond Ave.

The festival is a day to celebrate how Lyngblomsten is promoting artistic exploration, wellness, and lifelong learning for older adults every day of the year. The event includes an art showcase featuring works created by older adults, make-and-take art activities, live music and entertainment, wellness opportunities and demonstrations, food, games, and more. Admission is free, and food and activities are priced for affordable fun.

“Lyngblomsten strives to be innovative and provide quality, life-enhancing programming and opportunities for all those that we serve,” said Andrea Lewandoski, Lyngblomsten’s Director of Lifelong Learning and the Arts. “I truly believe that the festival is celebrating all of that and is nurturing people through their mind, body, and spirit.”

This year, the celebration will feature a number of activities, including the following:
• An art showcase exhibiting sketches, pottery, paintings, and other pieces created by Lyngblomsten residents, tenants, and community program participants over the past year.
• Make-and-take art activities led by Northern Clay Center, the Polymer Clay Guild of Minnesota, ART4JOY, Wet Paint Artists’ Materials and Framing, Blick Art Materials, and the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project of Minnesota.
• Live music and entertainment featuring the Minnesota Opera, Zorongo Flamenco, Lakeshore Radio Players, Park Square Theatre, MacPhail Center for Music and HealthRHYTHMSTM Drumming.
• A Wellness Lounge encouraging festivalgoers to learn about the many ways Lyngblomsten promotes wellness throughout the year. Activities will include wellness demonstrations (including Tai Chi and seated exercise), chair massages, aroma touch hand massage, and art selfies.
• Delicious food, beverages, and ice cream provided by Grand Ole Creamery and I w Smoothies.
• Games and activities for children, including a bouncy house, fishpond, ring toss, beanbag toss and face painting.
Lyngblomsten held its first summer festival more than 100 years ago in 1913 as a tribute to Anna Quale Fergstad, the nonprofit’s founder and first president.

For more information on this family-friendly event, visit www.CelebrateMSF.com.

The Lyngblomsten Mid- Summer Festival is proudly part of ComoFest: Fun Every Weekend in July. Learn more at www.comofest.org.

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Lexington Beautification 09

The Lexington Boulevard Beautification Project takes root

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

Quentin Nguyen bought his home just north of the Como Golf Course four years ago, and he has a vision for his neighborhood. He calls this vision, “the Lexington Boulevard Beautification Project.” It will extend along Lexington Pkwy. between Larpenteur and Montana avenues, and he is ready to get it growing.

Nguyen planted his own half-block stretch of boulevard along Lexington with the perennial blooming flower Liatris (blazing star), a few years ago. The plant, which will form a sea of purple spikes when it blooms in July, has filled Nguyen’s boulevard. “I have never felt remorse for having dug out all that grass,” he said.

Nguyen has been going door to door encouraging neighbors to do the same. The vision is that each of the property owners (two on each side of five blocks for a total of 23 houses and two businesses) will eventually replace their boulevard grass with native, perennial plants for the benefit of local bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. “The blooming boulevards may even become a traffic-calming measure,” he said.

Photo right: Quentin Nguyen in front of his Liatris boulevard planting. He said, “The feedback I’ve received has been very positive. No one has shown any opposition to the idea of the Lexington Boulevard Beautification Project because it benefits everybody.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

So far, Nguyen has received verbal confirmation from nine of his 20 neighbors that they’re on board. They claim they’re ready to remove their grass and commit to planting one of the 16 varieties of plants Nguyen has selected as suitable.

Because each of the lots is technically a corner lot, they must all abide by the 18” plant height maximum set by the City of St. Paul. The goal is to have boulevards that are early, mid and late season blooming, so there will be big splashes of color along the boulevard from May thru September.

“Who wouldn’t want to make Lexington Pkwy. a more inviting corridor into Como Park?” Nguyen said, “Through Nextdoor and Facebook, I’ve already had almost a dozen people say they would like to volunteer with cutting sod and planting flowers. Como Park Lutheran Church has offered the services of their youth program. Right now, more than anything, I want to get the word out that we’re doing this project that will be good for the environment and good for the neighborhood—neighbors helping neighbors.”

Photo left: One of Nguyen’s many eye-catching yard projects is his vertical garden fence. He said, “A couple of years ago, I had a job at a nearby convenience store. One of our customers came in all the time and bought cases of 7-UP in one-liter green plastic bottles. After a while, I asked him if I could have those bottles. I told him I had an ugly fence that needed improving, and now I plant lettuce and herbs this way every year.” (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

Nguyen continued, “I have a little bit of a reputation around here as a gardener; people know they can trust me. They believe that I’ll help put these gardens in and that I won’t disappear afterward. If a homeowner or renter isn’t able to care for their boulevard garden, I’ll find a volunteer who can. The beauty of each boulevard just having one type of native perennial is that the plants will grow densely, and the weeds won’t be much of a problem. Once they’re established, the boulevards should be considerably less work than grass.”

For more information on this project, visit the Como Park Facebook page or Nextdoor for the Como neighborhood. Nguyen can also be reached at quentinqnguyen@gmail.com with questions.

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ADU 08

Midway residents build St. Paul’s first Accessory Dwelling Unit

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

ADU stands for Accessory Dwelling Unit. It’s a familiar acronym in many parts of the country, especially in the big cities of the Pacific Northwest where housing costs are soaring. Midway residents Chrissi and Eric Larsen started thinking about building one shortly after they bought their 1922 home two years ago. The City of St. Paul soon issued an ordinance that allowed them to move forward with their ideas.

St. Paul’s ADU ordinance has been in effect since November 2016. It defines an ADU as a second dwelling unit, subordinate to a principal one-family dwelling, within or attached to a one-family dwelling or in a detached accessory building on the same lot. Property owners don’t need a variance to build one.

Photo left: Eric and Chrissi Larsen on the deck of their newly completed Accessory Dwelling Unit. The 600 square foot, one bedroom apartment sits on top of their two car garage. They are the first homeowners to build an ADU in St. Paul. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

There is currently renewed conversation in St. Paul about expanding boundaries to open the possibility to a larger part of St. Paul. The Larsen’s home is barely within the zone limits of the 2016 ordinance. “Only 5% of St. Paul fell within its boundaries,” Eric said.

“It has to do with building density along the transit corridor. The area involved is one-half-mile north and south of University Ave., between Lexington Pkwy. (to the east) and Emerald St. (to the west). Our property squeaked in by just two blocks.”

“Our garage was in such bad shape,” Eric explained, “that it was hardly usable. Its footprint measured 12’x18’. In designing its replacement, we decided to increase the size to 24’x26’ and to build a second story ADU of 600 square feet. We were in compliance with all the other requirements. We have a lot that’s 5,000+ square feet. We built only one accessory unit on our lot. As the property owners, we’ll live permanently in either the principal unit or the ADU. The ADU roof doesn’t exceed the height of our principal structure. There’s room for one off-street parking space on the property, and all building code requirements for the ADU have been met.”

The Larsens hired architect and builder Steve Petry of Arden Hills to help them with their design. Eric worked full time on the project for eight months, which helped keep building costs down. The finished ADU is a pleasant and comfortable one bedroom apartment with entry from either an interior or exterior stairway, 10’ ceilings, generous natural light, and a 250 square foot deck. It includes a sliding barn door to the bedroom, a huge bedroom closet, high energy efficiency overall, and a ventilation system that helps the unit “breathe.”

“Chrissi and I want this to remain a flexible space, at least for the time being,” Eric said. “We’re currently using it to host family and friends. We don’t plan on selling our home, but if we did, we believe the ADU would be a plus in many ways. Obviously, it would make for a higher asking price, but it would also raise the income potential for the new owner.”

Last year, the St. Paul Planning Commission heard from District Councils around the city that they were also interested in developing this housing option. Following a public meeting two months ago, the Planning Commission recommended that the St. Paul City Council pass a city-wide ordinance.

Eric said, “Our experience has been very positive. During construction, our neighbors were supportive and agreed with us that ADUs are a good way for neighborhoods to grow. ADUs offer homeowners a lot of flexibility over time and use fewer resources like gas and electricity due to their size. We encourage people to be open to accepting them in their neighborhoods, and to be engaged in the process of expanding St. Paul’s ADU ordinance boundaries.”

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sculptures Hugo

Como exhibits ‘Art to Save the Sea’ sculptures made from beach debris

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

“Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea,” a massive, colorful, traveling art exhibit is now showing at Como Park Zoo & Conservatory.

The Washed Ashore exhibit features giant sea life sculptures made entirely of marine debris collected from beaches to graphically illustrate the plastic pollution found in our oceans and waterways.

Photo right: “Priscilla,” a sixteen foot long Parrot Fish, is a sculpture created from trash collected on the ocean’s beaches. (Photo provided)

The artwork will be combined with scientifically based educational signage to teach visitors about ocean stewardship, responsible consumer habits and how every action counts to help save our seas.

Como will be home to several pieces, including ”Hugo,” a nine-foot-tall whale tail, and “Priscilla,” a sixteen foot long Parrot Fish, both made out of plastic toys, buoys, toothbrushes drink bottles, bottle caps, flip-flop cut-outs, hair brushes, and other plastic garbage picked up on beaches.

The exhibit offers Como’s visitors a powerful, visual reality of the proliferation of plastic pollution in the world’s waterways through representations of marine animals using thousands of pieces of plastic in every color of the rainbow.

Photo left: ”Hugo,” a nine-foot-tall whale tail sculpture is part of “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea” at Como Park through Oct. 21. (Photo provided)

Washed Ashore is an environmental education project that uses art to raise awareness to the tragedy of plastic pollution in the oceans through community involvement. It has taken thousands of volunteers and tons of marine debris to create the monumental sculptures that now make up the Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea exhibit.

“Washed Ashore encourages conservation by inspiring guests to be part of the solution to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle,” said Michelle Furrer, Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Director. “With this exhibit, we hope to educate and motivate our guests to learn more about the dire issue of pollution in our waterways.”

The Washed Ashore exhibit is free and will run through Oct. 21.

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CHS Stock Market 2nd Place

News from Como Park High School – July 2018

Posted on 10 July 2018 by Calvin

Compiled by ERIC ERICKSON, Social Studies Teacher

• For the second consecutive year, four cadets from the Marine Corps Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) at Como traveled to Washington D.C. to compete in the JROTC Leadership and Academic Bowl. Out of 240 other MCJROTC schools in the nation, the Como team qualified during the school year to be one of the eight finalists. At the nationals in late June, Como’s William Farley, Joseph Newman, Anderson Xiong and Francisco Dominguez-Jaramillo placed 2nd in the Marine Division.

• Academy of Finance (AOF) students (from l to r in submitted photo right) Phillip Chervenak, Curtis Love, Daiswaun Miller and Zakarai Jamari, built a stock portfolio as part of the BestPrep Stock Market Game. Their investment strategy resulted in a remarkable 2nd place finish for the entire state of Minnesota. The students’ collaboration, consultation, and market analysis were commendable and motivating. The team enjoyed a reception sponsored by BestPrep where they were awarded a plaque and certificates (see photo).

• The school year for teachers officially ended on June 11, but many Como teachers were back in classrooms leading instruction at St. Paul summer school sites by Monday, June 18. Several teachers also participated in professional development programs during June.

Augsburg University hosted an Advanced Placement (AP) Summer Institute for social studies subjects. Abdul Sannie-Ariyibi attended the training for AP Human Geography in preparation for teaching it next fall. Eric Erickson attended the AP Government training to modify content according to the new course design being implemented this fall. He also was invited back to the Foreign Policy Association Teaching Institute in New York City where he studied with educators as part of the North American Collaboration Initiative.

AP English teacher Kristin Mathieu was selected to grade the AP Literature and Composition national exams in Kansas City, MO. She also attended the AP Summer Institute at Carleton College to study AP Literature Advanced Topics.

• Como Cougars’ soccer players have been busy training and developing their skills in June through voluntary workouts. Players are also donating their time and energy to the “Soccer Stars” community program in collaboration with St. Paul Parks and Recreation. Soccer Stars provides fun introductory and developmental soccer activities on Tuesday nights.

Coordinated by Como boys’ coach Jonah Fields, boys and girls from the school teams lead the sessions and pair up with the young participants, to provide a personal and positive experience for all. Everyone is enjoying the Soccer Stars experience being held, for the first time this summer, on the new turf field at Como.

• The end of the school year also marked the end of careers in education for six Como staff members. Retirees Jackie Yarusso, Janeen Hedren, Susie Skalman, Gail Rosenow, Laurie Payton, and Theresa Neal were honored and celebrated at a reception in front of colleagues and family at Gabe’s By The Park. Their service to students and the Como community is indescribable here. Each brought unique talents and skills to Como that will be missed.

• Theresa Neal’s (photo right) 39 years in the St. Paul Public Schools concluded with four years as the Como Park High School Principal. From the fall of 2014 until the spring of 2018, Neal served the Como community by advocating and supporting students in their educational journey, and helping provide a sense of belonging for the students that walked through the doors. “When they walk into the building, each and every one of them are my children,” Neal said.

Students’ gratitude for Neal’s leadership could be seen on a daily basis in school and especially through a touching graduation ceremony. The gratitude is reciprocated. “I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the CPSHS school community,” Neal said. “I have been enriched, supported and became a better person, because of the individuals and opportunities that I experienced here. I leave knowing that Como will move on to greater heights – that the sky will be the limit for such a phenomenal school community! Como will forever be etched in my heart!”

• Como’s new principal, Stacy Theien-Collins (photo left) was selected in May. Theien-Collins has been an educator for 28 years and served as Murray Middle School’s principal for the last five years.

“I am so excited to be a part of the Como learning community. I have been welcomed in such a warm way,” Theien-Collins said. “Strong programs and curriculum make a school strong. Special programs, like AP and AOF, whether school-wide or targeted create quality learning opportunities and lead toward a community’s unique identity. We will work together to make sure we have pathways to learning and that those pathways are accessible to ALL learners.”

Principal Theien-Collins is also enthusiastic about the facilities improvements happening at Como. “Facilities matter! There is a large body of research showing school buildings have a profound impact on student and teacher outcomes,” Theien-Collins said.

“I am excited for what I have seen accomplished so far and envisioning the future that the additional changes and enhancements will bring. We know student health, behavior, engagement, school pride, learning and achievement are all impacted positively with new facilities.”

Construction of the new academic wing is supposed to be completed by the end of August and ready for the new school year. Upgrades and remodeling of west wing classrooms, bathrooms, library, and common areas this summer require the entire building to be officially closed until the last week of August. The Wenck Engineering and Construction Company is in charge of the building until then.

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