Saint Paul Real Estate Blog

Saint Paul on the Forefront of Green Practices

The City of St. Paul has been working hard to ensure that it stands out as a community that not only cares for the environment, but sees the money saving value green technology potentially offers.  I went back through my previous posts to find all of the ones I wrote about how Saint Paul has been evolving towards a more earth-friendly community.  I even surprised myself with how many I found!

Working backwards, there was the article I wrote about a Macalester College student who was recently recognized as an environmental leader; a great story about youths in Dayton’s Bluff being honored for their anti-littering work; and a recycling collection program at the Como Park Zoo.  Additionally, the City of St. Paul works hard to preserve its urban canopy and has committed a large percentage of its lands for green spaces.  Finally, more activities occurring in St. Paul emphasize the benefits of an eco-friendly lifestyle, most recently with the 2008 Minnesota Solar Home Tour and the Eco-House at the Minnesota State Fair.

Phew, that’s a lot!  It should come as no surpise, then that the rest of this post will discuss two new green living practices in which the City of...

Ramsey County to Buy 3M Land?

The St. Paul Port Authority is in the process of buying much of the 45-acre 3M grouping of properties, which lie south of Phalen Boulevard and east of Arcade Street.  Ramsey County, meanwhile, wants its own piece of the pie.  The county is looking into buying some of the 3M land on St. Paul's East Side for $1 million.

The county wants a 6-acre piece at Arcade and East Minnehaha Avenue in order to build a $14.2 million office building on the site for county workers.  The idea is to build offices for about 275 county workers from a number of departments, including 125 Community Corrections workers.  The cost for the new building and moving workers combined is estimated at $17.8 million.

Ramsey County is floating this idea because it plans to move out of the former West Publishing Co. building on Kellogg Boulevard. A developer has eyes on West building and the county's other riverfront real estate in Downtown St. Paul.


Como Pool Closed for Good

A popular summer destination for Saint Paul residents has closed and the end of an era has come to the Como Park neighborhood.  The deteriorating Como Pool, which has been serving the community since 1962, has closed for good due to safety problems and high repair costs.  The decision as to when another pool will be built to fill its absence has not yet been made.

The Como Pool has needed repairs for many years.  Because of mechanical and electrical problems, the City of Saint Paul has decided the pool can't be operated safely.  The infrastructure is now so old that repairs would far outrun its value.  Bringing it fully up to operational code would cost well over $1 million.

Como Pool was built for $161,000 by the private firm Public Pools Inc., which operated it on land leased from the City of St. Paul until 1965 when the firm went out of business. The city then bought the pool for $15,000. 

The outdoor pool attracted 15,000 swimmers each summer until its closure this past September.  Most visitors live in homes the neighborhoods that surround Como Regional Park in St. Paul: Como Park, North End, Thomas-Dale, and Midway.  Those residents...

Important Decisions This November

Nope, I’m not talking about the presidential elections.  Since this is a blog that provides information about the St. Paul community, I’m of course referring to something much closer to home.

Linwood and Monroe schools in St. Paul, newly merged this year, are in need of a name to reflect its formation.  The two schools will make ballots available to students and community members November 4 to pick a name and school colors for the combined school.  Its curriculum offers arts-focused programs for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. The Linwood school is located in the Summit Hill neighborhood of St. Paul while the Monroe school can be found in the West 7th neighborhood of St. Paul.

Responses from the two school communities suggested that people wanted both school names reflected in the joint name. The name choices are Linwood Monroe Arts Plus; Arts Plus at Linwood and Arts Plus at Monroe; and Linwood Monroe PreK-8. The color choices are green and blue or green and yellow. Linwood's colors had been blue and yellow; Monroe's were green and white.

Monroe, which is located at 810 Palace Ave., will be open to the public that day because it is a polling place for the national and local elections. The ballot box for the school name and colors will be near where people cast their votes for the election. At Linwood, ...

Dayton's Bluff is an Overlooked Gem

The Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood of Saint Paul is an area full of beautiful sights.  It is built along the edge of the majestic Mississippi River valley.  It has a stellar view of the downtown skyline, which twinkles with different colors lights each night. And then of course, it has a good view of the setting sun.  As an added bonus, many of the homes built here are fine examples of good architecture.

Yet hundreds of homes in Dayton’s Bluff stand vacant as a result of a foreclosure crisis. Dayton's Bluff activists are working towards changing that.

Community leaders are hosting a Dayton’s Bluff Vacant Home Tour this Sunday that they hope will rekindle the same enthusiasm for the neighborhood that a two-day version of the home-tour event in early May did.  About 300 people visited 12 vacant homes in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood at that time. Many rode a trolley to and from the 12 vacant houses and duplex units on display.

The results?  Seven of the 12 residences eventually were sold. Sales are pending on two others.  Once they have sold, that would be a 75% success rate.

Many of the houses have been standing empty with deferred maintenance and will require fixes.  Buyers that are willing to do the work...

Saint Paul Winter Carnival Ice Block Stock for Sale

This week, the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation announced that stock to fund the carnival's distinctive ice-carving contest is now available.  There is a twist this year, however.  This time, buying stock in a block of ice will provide a little warmth to people in need.

When each stock is sold, $5 will be donated to Saint Paul's Dorothy Day Center to provide food for about 1,400 people.

"It's a community festival, and we believe in giving back to the community," said Kathy Bjerke, chairwoman of the St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation. "The Dorothy Day house is very close to where the ice sculptures are, and it's great for the community."

This the second year that the cost of the ice-sculpting event has been brought to the public. Though the ice carvings are one of the premier events of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, there were problems with the funding.  The issue was brought to the community in order to keep the ice sculpture contest running.  Though the Heritage Foundation did not meet its goals last season, members considered it a success.  This season, fundraising has started months in advance.

Because the carnival is in its 123rd year, the "stocks" will be sold for $123 each. Stock can be purchased through the carnival's Web site,, or by calling 651-223-4700. The first 123 participants will have the chance to participate in the carnival parade. All stockholders will receive a certificate of ownership.

The goal is to raise...

Dayton's Bluff Home Tour

This Sunday, there will be a free home tour in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood of St. Paul.  On October 26 from1:00 to 5:00 p.m., vacant homes will be the focus of the tour.  Potential home buyers who would like to take the tour can board the tour trolley, without having to worry about the drive!

Maps with the home information and locations can be picked up at the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council at 798 East 7th Street at the start of the tour.  Participants also can get coffee and hot apple cider at this location for a pick-me-up.

The neighborhood of Dayton’s Bluff is a wonderful place to live.  It has a Historic District, fantastic parks, great people, and is very close to the city’s downtown.  What’s more, with the high cost of gas and the cost of living, homes in Dayton’s Bluff Saint Paul are close to employment, entertainment, and shopping.

The Dayton’s Bluff Vacant Home Tour held earlier this spring was a tremendous success, with about 300 people attending. Since that time, eight of the twelve homes on the tour have been sold.  This fall home tour will also have some great deals on some great homes, so come and take a look!
For more information, call 651-772-2075 or visit


More Green Minds in Saint Paul

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about some youths working to make a difference in the environment of Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood of Saint Paul.  I ran across an article today about yet another young person working to make the world a cleaner place to live, within St. Paul and beyond.  This time, he hails from the Macalester neighborhood of Saint Paul.

A student from Macalester College was honored in San Francisco this week with a Brower Youth Award.  The award recognizes six North American environmental leaders between the ages of 13 and 22.  21-year-old Timothy DenHerder-Thomas will receive a $3,000 award and participate in skills-building and mentoring workshops.

DenHerder-Thomas believes that becoming more earth-friendly as a society doesn’t need to be a story of hardship and personal sacrifices.  Instead, he has demonstrated that climate solutions are opportunities for economic profit and local community building.

He is responsible for spearheading the creation of the Clean Energy Revolving Fund at Macalester College in Saint Paul, which is a financial pool for campus initiatives that funds profitable sustainability projects that repay the fund and help it grow.  It is now nearing $100,000 and yielding over...

Dayton's Bluff Anti-Littering Youths Honored

About 40 youths that spent their summer cleaning Saint Paul’s Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood were honored recently by the Dayton's Bluff Community Council.  Ranging in age from 9 to 17 years old, the kids hailed from summer programs at the Margaret and Dayton's Bluff recreation centers.

The youngsters took time out of their care-free days of summer to clean up trash and put up anti-littering signs around St. Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood. They spent days cleaning up trash from 20 seven-block areas.

"We have a lot of youth here who really care about the community," project coordinator Erin Sobaski said.

Community organizer and 31-year neighborhood resident Karin DuPaul says that the programs at the recreation centers give youths direction and help them build pride for their neighborhood.

The litter pickup was "a good opportunity to show a different side of themselves," said youth worker Colin Moore, one of two youth workers who supervised the kids each day throughout the summer.  The kids didn't even seem to mind picking up other people's trash.

"They were thrilled to be given a sense of responsibility for their own neighborhood," Moore said.

The litter-cleaning group hopes the effects of the neighborhood cleanup will last. And new connections between teenagers have spawned new teen groups, such as a break-dancing group at the Dayton's Bluff center.  

What a great...

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...

Register for Next Year’s Home Tour

Almost 4,000 Twin Cities residents visited an average of 6.6 homes each throughout the 21st Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour during the final weekend in April earlier this year.  That adds up to about 26,000 visits across 50 Twin Cities homes.The Minneapolis Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) is the organization responsible for coordinating the tour.  Because of this success, the NRP is currently accepting names and addresses for homes to be placed on the 2009 Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour.  Next year’s tour will occur on April 25 and 26.

The Minneapolis & Saint Paul Home Tour is when home owners within the two cities open their homes to perfect strangers to show inventive and convenient remodeling ideas for home additions, kitchens, bathrooms and more. People who tour the homes can speak openly with homeowners and discover what it’s like to go through the remodeling or renovating process. In most instances, the contractors, architects, and other trades people that helped with the remodeling projects will also be on lcoation at the homes to answer questions.

St. Paul and Minneapolis residents that would like to have their remodeling project featured on the tour can request it right now.  Homes on the free, self-guided tour will be open Saturday, April 25, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, April 26, 1-5 p.m., regardless of the weather. 

Are there others in your neighborhood with interesting, unique, or large completed remodeling projects that might want to be on the tour?  Many of the 2008 home tour visitors surveyed said they were interested in looking for homes in Saint Paul...

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis for September 2008

Changing from what has been happening in recent months, new listings of homes for sale in Saint Paul, Minnesota, rose during September according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities.  During the month, there were 621 new listings in St. Paul.  Throughout September of last year, there were 602 new listings.  That is equal to an increase of about +3.2%!  The Phalen and Highland Park neighborhoods of St. Paul experienced the greatest increase in new listings during September at +44.3% and +32.4% respectively. On the contrary, the West 7th and Merriam Park neighborhoods saw declines in new listings of -45.0% and -50.0% respectively during September. 

Posted new Saint Paul real estate listings from January through September for the year to date were at 5,543.  That is a decrease of -8.9%.  The month of September’s rise in new listings helped to raise that number up a bit that from August’s -10.2%.  If the trend continues in October for new listings in Saint Paul, the real estate market might be on par with posted listings for last year.  Saint Paul's Merriam Park and St. Anthony / Midway had the most extreme decrease in new listings.  The Phalen and West Side / Cherokee neighborhoods...

New Giraffe at Como Zoo Makes Public Debut

Throughout the summer, the Como Zoo had butterflies to attract the public.  In August, a baby flamingo was born.  Now, a baby giraffe that was born just ten days ago on October has made its debut at the Como Zoo on Monday. The baby girl is about 5 foot, 5 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds.

The giraffe will make public appearances from time to time during each day as she gets adjusted to her new surroundings.

The birth is the 12th giraffe birth in the past 15 years at Como Zoo.

The giraffe is the tallest of all land-living animal species.


View Fall Colors from the Highland Water Tower

As a Minnesota resident, you already know that the foliage here is breathtaking in the fall. This weekend, residents of and visitors to St. Paul have a special chance to take a look at beautiful fall foliage from an unusual vantage point.  On Saturday and Sunday, view the autumn leaves from the top of the 127-foot Highland Water Tower in Saint Paul during its open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. Visitors are invited to climb the 151-step staircase inside the tower to the observation deck.

The Highland Water Tower’s observation deck offers visitors with a fantastic view of the area, particularly looking down on the changing colors of the trees scattered across the Highland Park golf course below and out toward the Mississippi River. On a clear day, airplanes can be seen taking off and landing at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport to the south. The view of the landscape stretches from the Saint Paul city skyline on the east to the Minneapolis skyline on the west. The Highland Water Tower open house provides an excellent opportunity for photographs and is also a fun outing the whole family can enjoy.

The water tower is an historic landmark located in the Highland neighborhood at the intersection of Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway. The tower, which was designed...

Summit Avenue a Top 10 Great Street For 2008

The American Planning Association has named Summit Avenue as one of 10 Great Streets for 2008 through APA’s Great Places in America program. APA Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value.

The APA says that Summit Avenue represents the nation’s most intact Victorian-era Boulevard.  Summit Avenue was selected because of its breathtaking vistas, park-like traits, and long history of planning measures, community participation, and private stewardship that have kept Summit’s unique qualities intact.

APA Great Places offer excellent choices for where and how people work and live. The areas given this designation are enjoyable, safe, and desirable locations. They are places where people want to not only to visit, but to live, work, and play every day. America’s greatest streets are characterized by many criteria, including architectural attributes, accessibility, functionality, and civic involvement. Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes distinctive and authentic features found in three essential components of all communities - streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces.

To understand how Summit Avenue received this designation, it helps to know how this area of ...

Renaissance Box Building To Become Affordable Housing

The Renaissance Box building on the edge of downtown St. Paul, which used to be an old shoe factory, is one step closer to being reinvented into affordable housing.  The building was awarded about $967,000 in federal low-income housing tax credits on Wednesday by the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority board (HRA).  The funds from the tax credits will help the nearly $16 million project get rolling. The project includes a renovation to provide 67 housing units.

Each year the federal government distributes the credits to individual states. The states in turn divide the money amongst worth projects. St. Paul has a ranking system it uses to decide which projects merit the credits.

How it works basically is that the credits are sold on the market to investors. The investors benefit by reducing their income tax liability, and affordable housing developers benefit from the cash they get in return. Developments that want to use the credits must follow strict guidelines, including restrictions on rent and tenant income for a specific amount of time.

The city will receive a total of about $969,000 in low-income housing tax credits for 2009. Nearly all of that amount will go to the Renaissance Box.

The remaining $2,000 will be split evenly between The Terraces and East Side Commons, existing affordable housing projects.

The HRA board also approved $731,000 of Invest St. Paul money to be used for projects. The Terraces will receive a $600,000 temporary loan to make crucial building repairs....

U.S. Launches Mortgage Aid Program

The federal government kicked off a program last week that aims to prevent foreclosures by letting approximately 400,000 troubled homeowners exchange their mortgages for more affordable loans. It will be up to the lenders, rather than borrowers, to decide if they will participate in the program, which requires them to take a loss on the initial loan. This new $300 billion, three-year program is designed to help out borrowers who owe more on their loans than their homes are worth.

To qualify, borrowers must be spending more than 31% of their income on mortgage payments. Loans that were acquired this year are excluded, except for those completed on Jan 1. Borrowers must have made at least six months worth oof payments on their loans.

The program, dubbed 'Hope for Homeowners,' was passed by Congress this summer as part of a massive housing bill. It is one of several government efforts to stem the mortgage crisis.

Executives from Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo told lawmakers last month they have been hiring additional workers to put the new program in place.

It is unclear, however, whether or not the financial industry will embrace the plan fully. One concern is that investors in mortgage securities must take an immediate loss and can't recoup their lost money if home prices turn upward again.

Read more about foreclosures and short sales.


Fall Flower Show at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

Though it may be just a little depressing to see the bright shades of summer fade to brown and orange hues, there are some upsides to Autumn.  First, it’s not as hot as our Minnesota summers can be, but the sun is still out.  Second, our Saint Paul’s excellent tree canopy looks just as great in the reds, golds, and oranges of fall as the greens of summer.  And third, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory opens it's annual Fall Flower Show.  On Saturday, October 11, the show will open with hundreds of chrysanthemums in two different editions in pallets of pink, lavender, purple and yellow and maroon, gold and bronze.

The chrysanthemum flower has been known since before 5000 BC in a small yellow form. The Chinese considered them with such great reverence that their royal throne was named after the flower.  Chrysanthemum flowers have traditionally been boiled in China to make "chrysanthemum tea," used in folk medicine for influenza patients. In landscaping, chrysanthemums are valued for the fact that they bloom in fall.  Chrysanthemum flowers are also a favorite of florists for arrangements, due to the longevity of their blooms.

The tradition of the annual Fall Flower Show began in 1915 when the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory first opened.  Today, the Conservatory hosts five season annual flower shows.  The Fall Flower Show at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is open October 11 through November 30 with the edition intermission November 3 through 7 and open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00pm.

For over 100 years, Marjorie McNeely Conservatory and Como Zoo in Saint Paul...

Saint Paul Neighborhoods to Receive Funding Awards

Soon, the St. Paul City Council will be distributing money for large neighborhood projects.  The proposals for nearly $2.6 million in projects have been reviewed and will be given out in the form of loans or grants throughout St. Paul neighborhoods.  The improvements range from new playground equipment to new buildings.

The money to pay for these new features in Saint Paul comes from a portion of the city's half-cent sales tax, known as STAR funds. There are two types of STAR programs, one for neighborhood projects and one for cultural projects.

Public and private groups, nonprofit or for-profit, are eligible to apply for the funds.  Applicants must match their requests dollar for dollar, and for-profit applicants must seek a combination of loans and grants, as they are not eligible for grants only.

The applications are reviewed and ranked by a 21-member board of St. Paul residents. Mayor Chris Coleman will have input, and the City Council has the final word on decisions.

This year, the recommended projects are:

• Expansion of Smyth Companies' facility - $250,000 grant and $250,000 loan

• Roof replacement at Women of Nations' Eagle's Nest Shelter - $25,000 grant

• An enclosed wheelchair-accessible breezeway at Midwest Special Services - $48,000 grant

• Replacement of two old elevators at Union Gospel Mission's Naomi Family Center...

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