Saint Paul Real Estate Blog

High Bridge Smokestack Imploded in Saint Paul

Some residents of Saint Paul awoke to explosions at 7:30 AM on Saturday morning.  More yet awoke to the sound of the High Bridge power plant’s 570-foot-tall smokestack crashing to the ground.  Its descent rattled windows, set off car alarms, and thrilled thousands of onlookers that came to witness the end of an era.


Built in 1923 and formerly St. Paul's tallest building, it was considered a historical structure by some and an eyesore by others. Though it was plain and homely-looking, the old stack was a symbol of home to many residents on both the West End and the West Side of St. Paul.  It’s no wonder, as the smoke stack has stood between these neighborhoods for over 80 years.


As stated previously in this blog, the demolition came as part of a $380 million conversion from a coal to natural gas burning plant by Xcel Energy at the High Bridge location. The new natural...

Saint Paul’s Raspberry Island Will Transform

By next summer, Raspberry Island, which can be found beneath the Wabasha Street Bridge in downtown St. Paul, is going to be converted into a real park. After years of planning, the city of St. Paul recently began a $5 million reconstruction of its last true island. Currently, construction crews are replacing a concrete shoreline with limestone riprap. By the fall, workers will begin building new paths, lighting, and public restrooms.

It is commonly known as Navy Island, as was a naval training site after World War II.  In the past, the island has played host to music concerts.  Since 1870, the Minnesota Boat Club has based its rowing operations there. It has sometimes served as a spillover area for Taste of Minnesota.  Lately it has become a site for riverfront weddings and other special events.

St. Paul officials and riverfront boosters have been talking about enhancing the 2-acre island for more than ten years. In 2005, the state awarded nearly $5 million to the project.

By July 2008, fishing enthusiasts will be able to cast their lines after strolling down a new set of steps to the water's edge. Seating will make it easier for island visitors to sit back, relax, and watch the barges go by. Public restrooms will be installed in the restored boat club building....

Saint Paul’s Taste of Minnesota

The 26th annual Taste of Minnesota, which runs next week from Thursday, July 3, through Sunday, July 6, offers entertainment for all ages.  Combining great music with fantastic food, the ears and tastebuds of many metro residents perk up at the very idea of attending the state’s largest free festival. 

Located at Harriet Island Park and along the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul, big acts this year include REO Speedwagon, Eddie Money, the Trashmen, Seether, gb Leighton, Cosmo, Badfinger, and more.  There will be fireworks displays at 10:20 p.m. each night. 

“A Taste of Minnesota prides itself on offering free entertainment that combines a variety of musical styles to suit the whole family,” said John Labosky, president of the Capital City Partnership, which owns A Taste of Minnesota.  “This year’s Taste is providing a wider range of acts to satisfy all ages than ever before.  We are looking forward to once again providing great music, delicious food, and family fun.”

Taste of Minnesota originated more than 15 years ago in the area of the State Capitol Mall. The past few years it has been at its Harriet Island location.

Please visit the Taste of Minnesota Web site for more information.


A Temporary Reprieve for Saint Paul Ford Plant?

There's a real chance that Ford Motor Co. will postpone the scheduled 2009 closing of its Ranger truck plant in Saint Paul if the company can convert the factory into make a more fuel-efficient version in a cost-efficient manner.  Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Dan McElroy, commissioner of Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development, said Ford officials agreed that the Ranger plant might have a chance at a temporary amnesty, providing the finances can be worked out.  The decision about the plant's future could come in late July or early August.

The possibility of an extension sent shock waves through Minnesota, which has been trying to save the plant that has operated on the banks of the Mississippi for more than 80 years. The plant was set to close in the fall of 2009, but Ford began to rethink that decision after Ranger sales rebounded in late 2007 and early 2008. Sales are up 2 percent so far this year, even as the public is shunning larger pickup trucks. Ford has already cut its night shift, bought out 1,600 workers and hired replacement workers at nearly half the prior $28 hourly wage.

Coleman said he is encouraged that Ford may extend production of the Ranger for a few years, but warned that Ford’s final decisions will likely depend on some kind of commitment from the state.

Though it is unlikely the plant would remain open permanently, an extension is not out of the question, according to Ford officials. 

Ford workers are cautiously optimistic...

The Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood of Saint Paul

Dayton's Bluff neighborhood can be located on the east side of the Mississippi in the southeast portion of St. Paul, Minnesota.  The northern border of Dayton’s Bluff is Grove Street and the Burlington Northern Railroad. The southern border is Warner Road. To the west is Lafayette Road and Highway 3, and to the east is Highway 61. 

Dayton’s Bluff is home to some of the deepest history of any Twin Cities’ neighborhood or community.  The history of this area goes back over 1,000 years when the Hopewell Native Americans used the area as a sacred burial ground. On the edge of the southern part of Dayton's Bluff, a series of seven large aboriginal burial mounds remain in Indian Mounds Park. They overlook the Mississippi River and the center of the city. This popular park features walking paths, playgrounds, and a picnic area. 

In 1857, a well-known land and railroad speculator from Vermont named Lyman Dayton platted an addition to the City of St. Paul on its Eastern border. ...

Saint Paul: Home of the First Minnesota Sonic Drive-In

Minnesota’s first Sonic Drive-In restaurant, located on Suburban Avenue in St. Paul, has been pulling in thousands of cars a day for the past two weeks into lines that are sometimes hours long.  Some people have traveled from as far away as Fargo, North Dakota, to have a bite.  On Sunday afternoon, the lines at Sonic were somewhat shorter - only about 25 to 35 minutes - but the enthusiasm is still going strong.

Perhaps it has been all the commercials that have been airing for years in Minnesota.   I must admit, after seeing some of the commercials myself, I wondered why advertisers would taunt Minnesotan’s with such tempting food if there wasn’t a Sonic located any closer than Iowa City, Iowa.  Happy Hours with half-priced soft drinks and all types of yummy looking food seemed unattainable.

Now the opening of this Sonic in Saint Paul has triggered an incredible response.  On Sonic's first morning, 19 cars were waiting when the store opened at 6 a.m.  Police officers are on site to help keep traffic moving in the areas surrounding the restaurant.  Its expected that lines could be long for up to a month or two.  They may dwindle slightly, however, when two more are open in the metro area later this summer - in Elk River in July and in Savage in August.

What is Sonic?  Well,...

Saint Paul Real Estate Market Analysis for May 2008

New listings for homes fell in Saint Paul, Minnesota, during the month of May, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities. During May of this year, there were 623 new listings in the City of Saint Paul. Throughout May of 2007, there were 818 new listings, which is a drop of about 23.8%.  St. Paul’s Downtown neighborhood experienced the steepest decline in new listings at -56.3%.  The West Side/Cherokee neighborhood was the only area of St. Paul to experience an increase in new listings compared to last year. 

When looking at Saint Paul’s posted new listing for the 2008 year-to-date, there has been less dramatic decrease by over half.  From January through May, there were 3,138 new listings in the city, compared to 3,455 during the same time period of 2007. That means there are 9.2% fewer new listings for the year. The most drastic changes happened in the Saint Anthony/Midway neighborhoods, where new listings have decreased by 31.1% while the Phalen neighborhood’s new listings increased by 11.9%.

In addition to reduced listings, closed sales on homes in St. Paul, Minnesota, also declined during the month of May. At 258, there were over 8.8% fewer closed sales than May of 2007’s 283.  For the 2008...

Twin Cities Jazz Festival

The 10th Annual Twin Cities Jazz Festival features national and local talent over two June weekends, one in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis.  Although the festival officially began on Thursday night, June 19th, with the reunion concert of 70s fusion band Return to Forever, the main events begin tonight Mears Park in St. Paul’s Lowertown! The music begins at 6:00 PM with Salsabrosa.  Jerry Gonzales and the Fort Apache Band are headlining tonight’s events at 8:30 PM. The music will continue Saturday afternoon, beginning with the Walker West Music Academy and ending in the evening with the Ravi Coltrane Quartet.  The annual festival jam will end the weekend’s events a few blocks west at the Artists Quarter.  

The Twin Cities Jazz Festival week continues with special performances in Minneapolis and Bloomington.  The final weekend of the festival will occur at Peavy Plaza in downtown Minneapolis on June 27 and 28.  It will feature headliners Charmaine Neville, Tony Monoco and the Heatin’ System, and Moore By Four.

Although most of the festival is free and outdoors,...

Music & Movies in Saint Paul

The Riverview Economic Development Association would like to invite you to Music and Movies in District del Sol!  This is a unique, family-friendly outdoor art, film and music series on St. Paul’s West Side in Parque Castillo.  Now in its sixth year, it is held every Thursday for 8 weeks during the summer, beginning June 19 and running through August 7.

This free series will feature a variety of live, local bands and well-known films as well as interactive art activities for all ages.  Each week, a new world culture will be explored and experienced through art, music and movies. 

The activities start at 6:30, music starts at 7:30 pm, all followed by a film starting at dusk.  The schedule for activities, bands, and movies can be found here. Click here for a map and directions.


The Wabasha Street Caves

One of the most interesting historic treasures which Saint Paul has to offer is the Wabasha Street Caves.  An event hall has actually been built into the sandstone caves located on the south shore of the Mississippi River in the City’s downtown.  Wabasha Street Caves are located on Wabasha Street, just south of Platt Blvd.  The caves are steeped in St. Paul history.

Originally, the caves were dug out by miners extracting the fine sand during the 1840s.  The silica was used for creating glass.  After the sandstone was removed, it was used as a storage area for food because of its cool temperatures.  In the early 1900s, it was discovered that the damp, dark caves offered ideal conditions for growing mushrooms.  The owners began growing mushrooms which were so popular they were shipped all over the country and eventually overseas.  This enterprise lasted for a number of years. 

However, the 1920s era of Prohibition changed the City of Saint Paul, as it changed many other cities at the time.  The caves became an ideal location for a commodity more lucrative than mushrooms: alcohol.  ...

Saint Paul's Science Museum of Minnesota

Downtown St. Paul is home to the Science Museum of Minnesota, a large regional science museum.  Founded in 1907, the Science Museum's programs combine exhibits, research and collection facilities, a public science education center, extensive teacher education and school outreach programs, and an Imax Convertible Dome Omnitheater.  More than a million people enter its doors each year. 

The Science Museum’s 370,000-square-foot facility is built into the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.  There are five permananet exhibit halls which cover paleontology, physical sciences and technology, the human body, peoples and cultures, and the Mississippi River.  The river itself flows just past the museum's ten acres of outdoor exhibits and programming space.

There is also a 10,000-square-foot temporary exhibit gallery.  This area has hosted exhibits making national or worldwide tours.  Artifacts from the famous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and its devastating effects on the ancient city of Pompeii were recently displayed here.  The controversial Bodies: The Exhibition also made its way to this gallery.

Beginning Thursday on June 12th, a brand new exhibit to the Twin Cities area will open in this temporary gallery. ...

Saint Paul Sommerfest Gala

The German-American Heritage Foundation presents the 2008 Saint Paul Sommerfest Gala weekend, which begins on Friday, June 13th, and last through through Sunday, June 15th. 

Friday, June 13, sets the weekend off right with a River Boat Cruise along the Mississippi River.  Boarding of the Betsey and Anson Northrop will begin at 6:30pm and they will embark from beautiful Harriet Island for an evening of fun at 7:00pm. Enjoy live musical performances, dinner and drinks as evening falls on the majestic Mississippi River.  The boat will return at 10:00pm.

On Saturday evening, the Landmark Center in Downtown Saint Paul will be transformed into old-world Vienna for the Emperor's Ball. Partake in an evening of grandeur and elegance including dining on the finest foods and beverages provided by the Saint Paul Hotel.  Dance to live performances by numerous entertainers throughout the evening.  The Emperor's Ball welcomes all ages. Attire for the evening includes black tie or period costume, as it highlights the beauty of a Viennese Ball from years ago.  The Emperor's Ball proceeds will benefit the Saint Paul City Ballet.

Festivities continue on Sunday, June 15th, when the German-American Heritage Foundation invites you to join them as they celebrate their ancestry with traditional food, beverage, and entertainment during their Sunday picnic. The event will take place on the German American Institutes grounds.


Coleman Fights for Saint Paul’s Ford Plant

Ford Motor Company's Twin Cities Assembly Plant is located next to the Mississippi River in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota.  A part of Saint Paul’s history since it was first built in 1924, it is the oldest Ford plant still in operation. Today, the plant manufactures the Ford Ranger pickup truck and the similar Mazda B-Series.  However, as automakers cut back production of large sport-utility vehicles and pickups, the 138-acre Ford plant is scheduled to close in September 2009.  The plant employs nearly 2,000 people from all over the Twin Cities area.

Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman has called on the Ford Motor Co. to reexamine its decision to close the plant, noting that Ranger pickup sales increased during the first five months of this year compared with the same period of 2007.  The overall increase occurred despite a drop in May.

The former St. Paul mayor wrote a letter to Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally which said that "Sales of the Ford Ranger are proving that folks want fuel-efficient vehicles.  The Ranger is one of the most cost-effective vehicles in its class, and it is my hope that Ford will reexamine the potential of this plant in light of increased demand."

Coleman's request, which was simply the latest in a series of requests from Minnesota leaders and politicians, comes as gasoline tops $4...

Saint Paul Foreclosure Prevention Workshops

The City of St. Paul and the Minnesota Home Ownership Center are sponsoring a series of foreclosure prevention workshops. The meetings are for people who are concerned about making mortgage payments, know someone who is in financial trouble, or just want more information.  

Mortgage lenders and community-based organizations will be available to offer free advice and answer questions, and attendees will be able to hear short presentations on legal rights and the foreclosure process.  Two similar workshops last fall drew more than 250 people each.

The next scheduled workshop will be held on Thursday, June 5 from 4:30–8:30 p.m.  It will be held at the Eagan Community Center, 1501 Central Pkwy, Eagan.

For more information, call the Home Ownership Center at 651.659.9336 or go to  St. Paul mortgage foreclosure prevention counselors are available at 651.266.6626 or Renters with foreclosure questions can call HOME Line at 612.728.5767.


Butterflies at Como Park Zoo

Right here in our own Saint Paul, visitors can see hundreds of butterflies from around the world.  People can view butterflies from Asia, North, Central and South America flying freely in a new indoor, temporary exhibit at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.  Como’s Blooming Butterflies opens June 6 and is open daily from 10am to 6pm through September 7.

Over 100 species from around the world will be exhibited throughout the summer.  Each visit will offer a new experience!  At any given time, up to 500 butterflies can be found within the habitat. These colorful creatures are curious and approachable. It is not uncommon for them to rest on visitors as they walk through the garden.  You will leave with a greater understanding of these fragile insects and an appreciation for the importance of maintaining their habitat to ensure their survival.  Visitors can chat with volunteers about butterflies, their life cycle, and importance to the ecosystem. Or, you can simply come in and enjoy the beautiful garden and butterflies.  The best days to view the butterflies are warm, sunny days that translate to optimum butterfly activity. 

While a few of the butterflies exhibited are found in Minnesota, the bulk of them are not native.  Como holds a special permit to exhibit these non-native butterflies.  Most butterflies are short-lived.  The average life span of the butterfly species being exhibited is two to four weeks.

Since many natural habitats have been lost to urbanization and other development, a home butterfly garden...

The Payne-Phalen Neighborhood of Saint Paul

The area known as the Payne-Phalen neighborhood is bounded by Interstate 35E on the west, Larpenteur Avenue on the north, the Burlington Northern railroad tracks on the east, and the Burlington Northern railroad tracks.  The Payne-Phalen neighborhood is part of St. Paul’s “East Side.”

The Payne-Phalen neighborhood served as one of the first immigrant settlements in Minnesota’s history.  For this reason, the area has historical significance for Saint Paul.  The first residents of Payne-Phalen were transitory settlers who lived in log cabins along the edge of Phalen Creek and Trout Brook.  These creeks used to make up the southwest boarder Payne-Phalen, but they were filled by railroad companies in after the Civil War. Starting in the 1840’s and 1850’s, Swedish immigrants were establishing themselves in the creek ravines.  The area was ultimately inhabited by a diverse assortment of people, including Irish, Italians, and Poles, in a multitude of shanties and shacks. None of the current buildings in this old section of Payne-Phalen were built before 1956, however.  That was when the City of St. Paul condemned the area in order to demolish and rebuild it.  The Phalen Creek valley also served as the site for a number of early industries in the neighborhood, one of the most famous being Hamm’s Brewery.  The Olympia Brewery now occupies that space.

Railroad ...

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