Cleaning Up Saint Paul, One Site at a Time

A blighted area at the corner of Robert and Cesar Chavez Streets, one of the busiest intersections on St. Paul's West Side, could be getting a major overhaul.  A $3.4 million project to tear down the decrepit Riverview Commercial Club building and replacing it with local restaurant Holy Land Middle Eastern Restaurant and Deli and a grocery store chain may become a reality.  It’s really up to the economy.

The old three-story Commercial Club building, which has been a ballroom, a bowling alley, even an Elks Club in its history, has sat vacant for more than a decade.  In a serious state of disrepair, it is believed the structure is beyond repair.  Fixing the corner could really reenergize the neighborhood and pay homage to the neighborhood's Middle Eastern tradition.

Plans call for the building to be razed and a one-story, 10,000-square-foot building and 50 space parking lot to be put in its place. Holy Land would be the sole tenant of the building and is expected to bring at least 20 new jobs.  The nonprofit Riverview Economic Development Association, or REDA, is the lead developer on the project.

There have been many ideas batted around to fix up the site over the years.  None have worked out for one reason or another.   This time, REDA has joined with Wellington Management, a longtime St. Paul development company, and is confident it can get the job done.

Construction on the Saint Paul real estate could begin after winter.  However, Holy Land has just gone through a recent expansion in northeast Minneapolis and is watching the financial markets carefully.  Money is a concern, but the project has some support from the city. The St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority has approved a $300,000 forgivable loan for the project. Another $300,000 forgivable loan is being sought through the STAR program, which is funded by a portion of the city's half-cent sales tax. REDA also received a $275,000 grant from the city.

The final decision about whether or not Holy Land Middle Eastern Restaurant and Deli has not been made.


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