On Thursday, Michigan-based Ford Motor Co. announced that it’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood will continue producing the Ranger small pickup through 2011. Previously, the plant had been scheduled to close just over a year from now.
"This is great news for the City of Saint Paul. Ford has been an integral part of our community for more than 80 years, with a legacy of providing good jobs in Saint Paul — a legacy we are working to extend as long as possible," said Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman in a statement.
In April 2006, due to decreasing sales in pick-up trucks and SUVs, Ford announced that its Ranger plant in the Twin Cities was to close in 2008. Then last year, the automaker extended the plant's life until 2009 because the vehicle seemed to be defying the trend. Because sales of the Ford Ranger are off only 4 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the 18 percent fewer lightweight truck sales for the rest of the industry, state and city leaders have been continuing to press Ford to reconsider.
Said Sen. Norm Coleman, who has put himself in the right a few times to save the fort plant, "I am certainly thrilled that they've seen what I saw. That is, if you're going to be in the truck business, this is the best vehicle to keep running."
The Saint Paul plant's hourly work force is down to 900 employees from 1,900 in 2006, when many took buyouts. Of those remaining, 240 are permanent workers and the rest temporary. It's not known if the extension will mean Ford will need to boost its workforce at the plant.
In the past, residents on St. Paul's West Side that wanted to take their four-legged canine friends to an off-leash dog park needed to travel to Minneapolis. Dog lovers, that may be changing quite soon! On Wednesday, the St. Paul Parks Commission approved a plan to build several off-leash dog parks, ranging from "destination" parks to "neighborhood" parks, with a promise to satisfy a range of dog lovers.
Included in the recommendations is having special little parks for little dogs. At these parks, larger breeds of dogs can be in one area away from the smaller dogs in another fenced in area so like can play with like. City leaders foresee something for everyone.
As spokesman for Mayor Chris Coleman said on Wednesday after the release of a task force report on the topic, "They will be a welcome addition to our nationally recognized parks system."
Coleman formed the task force earlier this year during a series of State of the City meetings. The usual taxes, public safety, and traffic concerns all surfaced during the forums, but the unexpectedly overpowering message from attendees: Give us more dog parks.
Right now, the City of Saint Paul only operates one park with an off-leash area for dogs: Arlington/Arkwright, on the East Side. An off-leash area at Ramsey County's Battle Creek Regional ...
Summer is the season of festivals here in Saint Paul, Minnesota
Going backwards, in the last month we’ve had Highland Fest
, the West End Art Show
, the Dragon Festival
, St. Paul Fourth of July
Fireworks displays, and the Taste of Minnesota
I’m sure I’ve missed some along the way, as well.
Prepare yourself: It’s time for more fun!
Spur on your inner Cowboy and head to the grandest Family Frontier Festival this side of the Mississippi! Beginning on Friday, July 25th, and running through Sunday, July 27th, the Wild West Frontier Fest on the Mississippi will be in full swing. This event will be located at Harriet Island on the St. Paul Riverfront.
There will be plenty of food and entertainment. There will be three stages for live music and inside a tent, silent movies will be shown. There will also be Riverboat rides and more good, old-fashioned fun for the whole family! Children aged 12 years and under can attend for free. For adults, there is a $12 with a portion going to Second Harvest food bank. Visit www.wildwestfrontierfest.com for more information.
I truly meant to write about this event on Friday, but it has been such a busy summer here it didn’t quite make it in time. Luckily, Saint Paul’s Highland Fest is a three day celebration and there are still entertaining events happening today!
Held in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul, this year’s Highland Fest began on Friday, July 18, and goes through today, Sunday, July 20. The festival features a juried art fair, music, entertainment, amusement rides, and plenty of food. Highland Fest draws between 60,000 and 65,000 visitors each year, with the largest turnout on Saturday.
Highland Fest is an annual festival organized and promoted by the Highland Business Association, which works hard year-round to highlight the Highland Park community and businesses. All proceeds benefit the association, which in turn uses the funds for operational support and for street-scape improvements in Highland Village. Festival organizers hope to continue to build on the positive relationship between the business community and the local neighborhood.
New events this year include Bingo at the beer tent throughout the weekend and a Strongman Competition on Sunday. Today from 1-5 pm, the Highland District Council and Thomas Liquors will be hosting a wine tasting in the beer tent.
So what exactly is on the agenda today? Well, for music there are a few options. ...
New listings for homes fell in Saint Paul, Minnesota, during the month of June, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities. There were 632 new listings in the City of Saint Paul throughout the month. In June of 2007, there were 694 new listings, which reflects a drop of about 8.9%, much better than May 2008’s new listings drop of 23.8%. St. Paul’s Downtown, for the second month in a row, has experienced the greatest decline in new listings at -51.2%. This time it was the Phalen neighborhood which experienced the greatest increase in new listings over last year at 111, 18.1% more than June 2007.
When you look at Saint Paul’s posted new listing for the 2008 from January through June for the year-to-date, there were 3,770 new listings in the city, compared to 4,149 throughout the same period of time in 2007. That means there have been about 9.1% fewer new listings of homes for sale so far this year. The most dramatic changes have happened in the Merriam Park neighborhood, where new listings have decreased by 28.0% over the course of the year; the Phalen neighborhood’s new listings continue to increase with 11.9% more houses for sale than last year.
Reduced listings does not mean that there have been fewer closed sales on ...
There has been a lot of talk these days about “short sales.” As these types of sales used to be more uncommon, they are a growing trend. Not everyone knows what a short sale is, though!
A “short sale” is what happens when a seller negotiates with their lender to sell a home for less than the debt owed on the mortgage. Short sales are an alternative to foreclosure or bankruptcy proceedings for owners who can no longer keep their mortgage payments current. Because it means the lender is accepting less than what is due, not all of them will be so keen to allow short sales or discounted payoffs. Furthermore, not all sellers or properties qualify for short sales.
If you’re a seller that can’t make your next payment or you’re a buyer thinking of purchasing a home through a short sale, know about the process before you do anything else. There are benefits and drawbacks for both sides of the transaction. That isn’t to say that a short sale isn’t a potential solution to a sticky mortgage situation or that a home buyer can’t get a deal on a home. Here is a general overview of what happens through the course of short sale proceedings.
A short sale is usually a last resort for home owners to stay out of foreclosure. The homeowner has fallen behind on payments, will be unable to make their next payment, or can't sell the house for what they owe on it, which has been happening more and more lately. Foreclosure proceedings haven’t started but it is looming. In this case, a short sale could be the solution if the property or borrower...
The Greater East Side of St. Paul is bordered on the north by Larpenteur Avenue, on the west by Hazelwood Street and Johnson Parkway, to the south by Minnehaha Avenue, and on the east by McKnight Road. The Greater East Side is actually made up of three neighborhoods. Hayden Heights, Hazel Park and Hillcrest are all part of this northeast St. Paul Minnesota neighborhood.
This middle class neighborhood boasts reasonable home prices that are affordable for families and single professionals while situated in a pleasant neighborhood. The area's young trees and mid-century era of the homes give it a suburban feel. Most of the residents in the neighborhood are young families or retirees.
The homes in Greater East Side are mostly larger, single family units with a few multi-family unites scattered throughout the neighborhood. The majority of the homes in the neighborhood were built after 1940. Most of the homes are Cape Cods and ramblers. That isn’t to say that all of the homes here are older, as there are several new construction homes being built along ...
Due to its abundance of historic homes, Saint Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood has been named one of the nation's 50 best places to buy an old house by none other than This Old House magazine. The magazine's staff gathered data about candidates from experts on old houses, state and local preservation groups and homeowners to make its decision. It was Dayton’s Bluff's commitment to the preservation of historic homes that bumped it onto the shortlist.
Dayton's Bluff in St. Paul is a large historic district with about 18,000 residents. The neighborhood overlooks downtown and the beautiful Mississippi River valley. Many of modest homes here were built during a growth spurt in the 1880s. Dayton's Bluff is a diverse urban community with plenty of restaurants, shops, and galleries.
Saint Paul has designated 600 houses and other buildings within this neighborhood as historic. There are also other vintage properties to choose from, including Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Arts and Crafts houses. While many have been lovingly restored, there are many fixer-uppers.
Selling prices range from $20,000 for an abandoned property to $50,000 for a historic house in need of work to $300,000 for a restored Queen Anne. This year, the average sale price of Saint Paul...
For the first time since 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau has reported that the population of Saint Paul is growing. Other cities experiencing the trend include Minneapolis and several of their first-ring Twin Cities suburbs. Simultaneously, the populations of outter-laying newer suburbs are tapering off. Based on building permit trends, St. Paul officials have believed the city was experiencing growth, but this is the first time the bureau has concurred.
Throughout this decade, the Census Bureau has recorded declines in population within St. Paul, Minneapolis, and some older suburbs like Bloomington, Edina, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park. Now they and a few others have reversed course, with inhabitants once again on the rise.
Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution in Washington says "A lot of older cities in the Midwest and Northeast are seeing greater gains or reduced declines. St. Paul actually flips, from 'down' to 'up.' And it may not just be a blip. Four-dollar gas may go a long ways toward slowing movement to the suburbs."
This apparent turn in the tide for Saint Paul...
St. Paul officials have put some money down on two new loan programs to help homeowners facing foreclosure and buyers unable to secure financing. The city's Housing and Redevelopment Authority board has approved putting $625,000 into funds for two mortgage incentive programs that will leverage dollars from private organizations. The money will help current homeowners refinance out of bad mortgages and provide an incentive for people to purchase vacant or foreclosed properties in Saint Paul.
The $625,000 comes from the Invest St. Paul program, a $17 million initiative to improve four struggling neighborhoods. Because of lowering property values, home vacancies, and mortgage foreclosures, the neighborhoods of Frogtown, North End, Lower East Side and Dayton's Bluff have been targeted for the project. The money will unlock $15 million divided equally between the Make it Possible and Sustainable Home Ownership programs. The Make It Possible program provides second mortgages, which eliminate the need for private mortgage insurance. The Sustainable Home Ownership program is a contract-for-deed program that gives buyers time to repair credit scores before moving into a conventional mortgage. Both of these programs will be administered by Dayton's Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services. The Family Housing Fund and University Bank are contributing more than half of the $15 million.
It's just one more...
According to a newly released report from the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, Saint Paul parks are ranked in multiple categories at or near the very top in the country. Of course, this report just confirms one of the many reasons why St. Paul is “the most livable city in America.” Without a doubt, the Saint Paul parks system is highly treasured by its residents.
When it comes to the amount of land dedicated to parks, St. Paul came in at second in a category that compared the city to others with similar population densities. According to the report, Saint Paul has set aside approximately 14.7 percent of its land to parks and green spaces. The only other city within this “immediate-to-high” population category to have more land dedicated to parks was the City of Minneapolis with 16.6 percent.
The Trust for Public Land reports the following ranks for Saint Paul (and Minneapolis!) when compared to a total of 60 of ...
Neighbors of Saint Paul’s West End neighborhood have banded together to organize the inaugural West End Scene and Be Scene visual arts show. The exhibit has been created to show off the work of artists with ties to the community surrounding West 7th Street.
Artwork from more than 50 artists of various ages and skill levels will be on display. The pieces range from drawings to sculptures and everything in between. The artwork will hang in the Pilney building near the intersection of W. Seventh St. and Randolph Ave. It used to house a grocery store and meat market.
The show is not only to show off the talented works of West 7th artists, but will give them a way to connect with each other. Exhibit organizer Rachel Gorski says “We can showcase what a vibrant and creative community we have here. I think artists often work under the radar and are holed up in their studio."
The West End is an economically and culturally diverse neighborhood. Once heavily industrial, the area has been attracting more housing and businesses opportunities. Plans are in the works for redevelopment of the old Schmidt Brewery, including rental housing specifically for artists.
The artistic vibe is thick here in West 7th. There are plenty of art galleries and studios. Neighbors, artists and friends recently formed...
The world’s eyes may all be on Beijing in August, but in July in Saint Paul, the Twin Cities will have its own slice of China at Phalen Lake/Park. On July 12-13, the park will be full of Asian Pacific entertainment, activities, and most importantly, dragon boat racing! It's time for the St. Paul Dragon Festival!
Dragon boat racing is one of the hottest and fastest-growing water activities to cross the ocean from China to North America. In this case, twenty-seven teams of 20-24 members each will paddle to the cadence of their own drummer. The 40-ft-long boats sport elaborately carved and painted dragon heads and tails. The riders of these beautiful gliding machines will be vying for a chance to be the 2008 champions.
The sights of and sounds aline will make the trip to Phalen Lake/Park worthwhile on the second weekend of July. Saturday is for practice. Sunday is race day. That’s when things will get serious!
There is, of course, much more to the Dragon Festival than dragon boat racing! Food and entertainment will be abundant here as well.
On Saturday at 11:30 a.m., visitors will be greeted and entertained by a dragon at the "Awakening the Dragon" ceremony. They can watch the dragon being woken up for the occasion; receive a traditional blessing by monks, followed by a Hawaiian dance performance and hula workshop.
The Capitol River Council will hold a public hearing tonight (Monday, July 7, 2008) regarding Saint Paul’s skyways, the attempt to create within them consistent hours of operation, and requests by a series of buildings seeking to be exempt from the plan.
Approved by both the St. Paul City Council and Mayor Chris Coleman, the plan is to make all of the skyways open everyday from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. The main goal of the ordinance is to avoid the skyway network from becoming fragmented by buildings at key junction points closing their skyways at odd hours, confusing people and forcing them to go outside in the winter, probably unexpectedly. However, the plan includes a way for buildings to try to get out of it, subject to City Council approval. Certain buildings at the ends of the network of indoor sidewalks are expected to be able to make a good argument that their walkways aren't heavily traveled or essential to the larger network. The Capitol River Council, hosting the hearing tonight, makes recommendations to the City Council.
The initial wave of requests for exemption were from Saint Paul’s City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse, the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, and St. Joseph's Hospital, and were all expected for obvious reason. Some are offering an after-hours skyway escort service for people who need it.
The current round of requests includes Macy's, which is expected to receive permission to close the skyway through its store at the time of store closing to prevent merchandise from becoming the target of thieves. Other buildings requesting different hours are: The Gilbert Building, Metro Square, Sibley Square...
The Macalester-Groveland neighborhoods of the city can be found in west central St. Paul
. Its boarders are Summit Avenue on the north, the Short Line and a segment of Interstate 35E on the east, Randolph Avenue on the south, and on the west, the Mississippi River. The neighborhood is primarily residential with some commercial areas.
Macalester-Groveland neighborhood is upscale with a mix of families and students. Due to its close proximity to the Mississippi River’s edge, the area is very beautiful. With its scenic river landscape, diverse variety of residents, and outstanding academic institutions, this neighborhood is the perfect location for couples, families, and retirees alike to set down roots.
Mac-Groveland boasts many schools for its comparatively small area, meaning a good education is nearby for students of all ages. The public schools here are Groveland Park Elementary School, Randolph Heights Elementary School, and Ramsey Junior High School, all of which are a part of Saint Paul Public Schools. There are also quite a few private and parochial schools from which to choose. Three private colleges make their home in Mac-Groveland: the affluent Macalester College, the University of Saint...
Happy Fourth of July! To many residents of Saint Paul, celebrating the independence of our nation is a highlight of the summer. This traditional holiday (and three day weekend!) means barbeques with friends, picnics with the kids, and family gatherings. But let’s not forget the fireworks!
Where can you see fireworks in St. Paul this year? As usual, at the Taste of Minnesota! This even started on July 3 and will run through July 6. On night of the festival, fireworks will be launched at 10:20 p.m.! There will also be live music, activities, and lots and lots of food from local vendors! Admission is free! Find out more about the Taste of Minnesota in this previous post!
Now, back to the fireworks. It’s unfortunate, but each year many people are injured or killed by consumer fireworks while celebrating. The Minneapolis Fire Department and surrounding Twin Cities communities would like to remind residents strive towards a responsible and safe Fourth of July weekend. There are some obvious ones that you should already know: Don’t drink and drive, keep pets indoors, and watch out for pedestrians. There are also some safety tips you can follow if you are lighting off fireworks this weekend. Please keep these pointers in mind, and share them with your friends, to ensure that everyone has a safe 4th of July celebration.
And it could spread all over the City!
Como Park Zoo's newest addition isn’t an exotic import or a new baby fuzzy creature. Nope, the latest additions to the zoo are recycling containers. The receptacles are for plastic bottles, aluminum cans, milk cartons, juice boxes, and more.
The Como Park Zoo is the initial test location of a pilot program that aims to put recycling containers in parks and public areas across the City of St. Paul. The city and Eureka Recycling have teamed up to create this pilot project. If the recycling bins work out for a reasonable cost, Saint Paul could be a model for other cities.
The idea to put recycling bins in public areas arose during a community the St. Paul Environmental Roundtable in 2005. More and more people these days are utilizing on-the-go products, like plastic water bottles, but there isn’t often access to recycle bins in public. As Eureka spokeswoman Dianna Kennedy puts it, "In St. Paul, people value recycling. But it needs to be more convenient."
So she drummed up about $80,000 in state and federal grants to explore ways to create a successful public recycling program.
And what a better place to test it out than the zoo? The Como Park Zoo, which is operated by the City of Saint Paul, attracts about 1.7 million people each year.
The zoo kicked in about $8,000 for 10 containers, but they paid more than that. To...
Last week on Wednesday, the St. Paul City Council unanimously approved the last of several reforms aimed at preventing vacant homes from languishing. After months of negotiations and many compromises, real estate leaders are on board with the plan, too.
Council Member Dan Bostrom, says "We're trying to save our neighborhoods here." He first proposed the reforms in January when the city's list of registered vacant buildings had topped 1,600. As of the time of this post, the number of vacant buildings in Saint Paul was 1,973. 1291 of these are single-family residential dwellings.
Many of the homes are unoccupied after lenders foreclosed on the homeowners. Out-of-state lenders don't tend to them. As a result, these vacant homes become targets for gangs, drug dealers, thieves, even arsonists.
In an effort to encourage owners of vacant houses to sell their properties, the City Council recently hiked the annual fee for owning an empty house from $250 to $1,000. And now, in an effort to force repairs, the sale of many of these types of Saint Paul real estate is restricted.
The reason for the changes stems from too many inexperienced, underfinanced or underqualified people purchasing vacant homes with the idea of making a quick flip.
Previously, anyone could sell a vacant home to anyone. Deficiencies in the home were disclosed, but it often wasn't until new owners tried to rent it out or move in that they fully understood how much work needed to be done before the city would grant an occupancy or fire safety permit. A portion of the reform measures will force the shabbiest vacant buildings to be brought up to safety codes before they can be sold. It also forces buyers...
An upscale condominium project that was to be downtown St. Paul
's first residential high-rise in over 20 years is the latest victim of the condo market demise
. The Penfield, a 33-story tower being developed by St. Paul-based Sherman Rutzick & Associates in conjunction with Minneapolis-based Alatus Partners, was expected to be developed at 100 E. 11th St
The Penfield condos were priced from about $200,000 to more than $1 million. The Penfield condo tower had been designed to incorporate some of the historic St. Paul Public Safety Building on the two-acre site. Planned amenities included a dog-walking deck, DVD screening room, and a fitness center and spa.
The project was canceled after only about 80 of the project's 313 condo units were presold. Lenders typically have required presales of at least half of planned condo units before construction can proceed. Lending requirements have become even tighter in the past year, after the subprime mortgage meltdown.
The developers received rights to the site about three years ago. The downtown land is owned by the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The city had planned to provide about $9.6 million in tax-increment financing for the $131 million project.
For now, its back to the drawing board to determine what will be built at the location now.