Saint Paul Real Estate Blog

St. Paul vs. The Emerald Ash Borer

Next week, forestry crews will start cutting down boulevard ash trees in selected areas of St. Paul as part of a broader strategy to slow the spread of emerald ash borers.

They expect to remove about 355 non-diseased but generally declining ashes over two months in wards 6 and 7 on the East Side. All the trees are on public property. Right now, the concentration will be on boulevard tries and in the future it may move to parks.

The work is being funded through a $722,600 state grant aimed at helping cities cope with invasive emerald ash borers. The insects were found last spring in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. Ash borers will likely spread to many of Minnesota's estimated 940 million ash trees.

The work will be done away from the infested area on the west side of the city. Removing healthy trees in the infected areas would simply force hungry beetles elsewhere and would hasten their spread. In the spring, crews expect to focus their efforts on removing diseased trees in the infested area.

Ash trees make up about 30% of Saint Paul's tree canopy, with more than 30,000 of them just on boulevards. Last year, 83 diseased trees were found and removed in St. Paul and Falcon Heights.

The city is distributing pamphlets explaining the tree-removal process to affected area residents.
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Saint Paul's Admission Possible Program Proving Itself, Expanding

Admission Possible, a St. Paul nonprofit that helps low-income students get into college, plans to expand to as many as 10 cities over the next five years.

The organization, which now only operates in the Twin Cities and in Milwaukee, confirmed last month that it will expand to a third site in 2011.

National statistics show more than 200,000 low-income students every year graduate from high school prepared for college but just don't go. Admission Possible's mission is to identify low-income high school students with the potential and motivation for college and then to provide them with four critical services: ACT and SAT test preparation; guidance in preparing college applications; help in obtaining financial aid; and guidance for the transition to college.

Admission Possible serves nearly 3,700 high school and college students. 98% of high school students in the program earn admission to college. Nearly 80% of those students who enrolled in college are still working toward their degree or have graduated.  

With those results, it is no wonder President Barack Obama singled out the group in a speech last summer as a good model to grow and emulate.
"Admission Possible operates in just two states now. So imagine if it was 10 or 20 or 50," he said.
Learn more about this Saint Paul program at the Admission Possible website....

Twin Cities Foreclosure & Short Sales Up in 2009

Mortgage foreclosures and short sales accounted for nearly half of all housing sales within the Twin Cities during 2009. They will likely continue to play a major role in the 13-county metro area’s housing activity in 2010.

According to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors, foreclosures and short sales to account for about 43% of all housing sales in the Twin Cities. Prior to 2006, foreclosures and short sales accounted for less than 5% of all home sales.

All that activity also had a major impact on the metro area’s median sales price and the area’s housing inventory. The Twin Cities closed out 2009 with a median home price of about $170,000, down from $195,000 in 2008. The Twin Cities median home price has been brought down by the high number of bank-owned homes sold and short sales.

Sales of homes less than $120,000 invreased 80% in 2009 compared with 2008. Homes that sold for between $120,000 and $150,000 incrased 40%. Sales of homes in the $150,000 to $190,000 range rose about 10%. Sales of all other home categories fell, with home at more than $1 million down about 30% in 2009 compared with 2008.

More foreclosures and short sales are expected this year, likely keeping the homes sales prices flat.

In response to the foreclosure crisis, Minneapolis and St. Paul have landed a combined $37.5 million in federal money aimed to slow down the foreclosure rate.

The city of Minneapolis received $19.46 million. The city was the lead applicant with Hennepin County and the city of Brooklyn Park....

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

The annual St. Paul Winter Carnival begins this week! It is the time of year again to dress warm and enjoy the winter wonder Minnesota has to offer.

Thursday, the festivities begin early with the royal coronation and reception, as well as an ice carving competition. A snow sculpture competition and Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade are highlights of Fridays events. The parade is a new attraction inviting guests to wander up John Ireland Boulevard to the State Capitol. Other events throughout the carnival include hot-air balloon liftoffs, rugby and lacrosse exhibitions, a snowy baseball game, beer dabbler sampling, and the "St. Paul Winter Carnival Has Talent" contest.

Though the Carnival was originally first-held to celebrate the success of railroad expansion in the city, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival also has its beginnings in an insult. According to legend, a New York reporter wrote in 1885 that Saint Paul MN was "another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter." Offended by this, the Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce decided to prove that the fast-growing City of St. Paul was a habitable, even lively place during the winter.

The first Saint Paul Winter Carnival was then held a year later in 1886. Patterned after Montreal’s Winter Carnival, the first Saint Paul Winter Carnival included parades, skiing, snow shoeing, and tobogganing. Additionally, the first ice palace was a big attraction.

The infamous Winter Carnival Treasure Hunt didn't begin until 1952. Each year, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press prints 12 clues on 12 consecutive days. These clues point to a local park, where participants race to find the gold medallion. The finders of the medallion are awarded up to $10,000 and receive a place of honor riding in the closing Torchlight Parade. As of this writing, it is Day 4, so 4 clues have already been offered. Think you're up to the ...

Saint Paul Homes for $1 - And a Catch

Believe it or not, the City of Saint Paul is having a hard time finding buyers willing to pay as little as $1 to purchase homes in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood.

The city bought 11 properties on or near East 4th. The most expensive one is $50,000 and the cheapest two are just $1. The catch is that homes need lots of work, and the city is expecting whoever moves in to spend around $100,000, or perhaps more, on renovations and upgrades. All a buyer has to do is be able to prove is that they can rehab the homes to meet city rules and preservation codes.

"This isn't just about providing shelter," City Council President Kathy Lantry said of the renovation project. "This is about people who want to invest in a home, and live there, and become part of a neighborhood."

The historic neighborhood has a lot of things homebuyers would want. It's close to downtown Saint Paul, it's close to bus routes and Interstate 94, and it's filled with unique homes.

Because interest is falling off, the city is considering paying for some of the renovations to give homebuyers a head start. In the meantime, potential homebuyers who have money to invest, a lot of patience, and some know how can get started for just a dollar. These are very likely not houses for first time home buyers.


Saint Paul's Minnesota Building Getting a Makeover

The former 3M headquarters, now known as Beacon Bluff, isn't the only Saint Paul location currently being recycled for new purposes. The Minnesota Building in downtown Saint Paul MN is in the early stages of getting a long-awaited makeover.

Interior demolition has begun inside the 13-story building at 46 E. Fourth Street in St. Paul, the first step toward redeveloping the 101,000-square-foot, 80-year-old structure for 137 rental housing units. The plan also calls for 10,000 square feet of commercial and office space.
Overall, the projects will create 252 new housing units and preserve 35 affordable units; the city estimates that the work will provide as many as 300 construction jobs.
Sand Companies CEO Jamie Thelen describes the Art Deco Minnesota Building project as a “historic rehab.” He hopes to complete construction by the end of the year.
Plans to redevelop the Minnesota Building for residential use have been in the works for years. Recent tenants have been the Salon du Nord art gallery, Friends of the Mississippi River and Minnesotans for an Energy Efficient Economy. No specific new tenants for the commercial or office spaces have been named yet....

Saint Paul's Former 3M Headquarters Renamed Beacon Bluff

The old 3M company headquarters on the East Side of St. Paul has a new name: Beacone Bluff. The St. Paul Port Authority also has a new Web site to market the former 3M campus to companies and lure jobs,

The property served as 3M's headquarters from 1910 to 1962. Over the past year, options for the land and reuse of the buildings have been discussed. Last month, the Port Authority closed on the purchase of the last remaining parcels of 3M's former campus.

Finding buyers might be a little difficult because there's a mix of vacant land and buildings with historic pasts. Officials want to see if the buildings can be sold for reuse first, rather than for demolition.


Eagan’s Sesquicentennial: Here's to Another 150 Years

Eagan was established as a township in 1860, a year before the Civil War began, and two years after Minnesota became a state. This year, Eagan will host several events to commemorate its 150 year history and its big birthday.

War and outlaws, homesteads and wheat fields. 150 years ago, Eagan MN was a very different place. Even 100 years ago, the city was known as "The Onion capital of the World." When was the last time you heard it called that? Eagan has slowly transformed from a ruffed landscape to farms to a suburban community outside the city of Saint Paul.
The city has been collecting historical photos, and Eagan Communications Director Tom Garrison said he's been surprised looking at them. A photo of a car accident on Yankee Doodle Road and Pilot Knob Road in the early 1960s shows the intersection was surround by almost all fields. Today, it is one of the busiest intersections in Dakota County.
The idea is to celebrate the town's history, not by creating tons of new events, but by bolstering existing events, such as Eagan's July 4th Funfest celebration. Still, the committee is planning the kickoff, a fall celebration banquet and a food drive. They hope to collect 150,000 pounds of food for their 150th year.

The celebration starts this Saturday with a party at the Eagan Community Center....

Minnesota Foreclosure Snapshot

The Minneapolis / St. Paul metropolitan area ranks as one of the most active in the nation in the number of delinquent or at-risk home mortgages. It is also one of the areas with among the most mortgages modified under the Obama Administration’s Homes Affordable Modification Program. 11,627 Twin Cities Metro area mortgages have been modified under the program through November, making it the 13th most active metropolitan area. Minnesota, as a whole, ranks 18th among the states, with 14,154 loans modified, or about 2% of the total. That bodes well for the area, as it will hopefully prevent more homes from going into foreclosure.

Nationwide, about 1.7 million homeowners were on the verge of foreclosure in the fall. Those homes will be put up for sale in the coming years and weigh down prices. Up from 1.1 million in 2008, is likely to keep rising through the middle of next year or later.

Not only do the vacant homes flood the market with inventory and hold down prices, they can become eyesores as lawns become overgrown and dangerous if they attract the attention of local riff-raff. Confounding the problem is redemption. Redemption in Minnesota is usually a six-month period following a sheriff's sale during which the people who owned the house can buy it back. Redemption poses a problem for cities because if a home winds up vacant or vandalized during that time, the homeowner and bank can deny responsibility, putting the burden of fixing it on the city. As we know, cities are already strapped and facing budget troubles, so it takes...

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