Reading the Highland Villager #43 (August 18th - 30 Edition)

[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]

Total # of articles about sidewalks: 16
Total # of articles about sidewalks written by Jane McClure: 15

Headline: Nova Academy moves closer to breaking ground on the West End
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The site of an old “fuel tank farm” is going to become a charter school along West 7th Street. The City's Housing and Redevelopment Authority is throwing $17.5M in bonding at the project.

Headline: St. Paul debates moratorium on student rentals; Year-long ban on converting single-family homes may be imposed around St. Thomas
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: More on CM Stark's proposed year-long the student conversion / rental moratorium for the [upscale] area around the University of St. Thomas. Article includes the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee (WSNAC) position and some data (from UST Geography) on the increase in these kinds of conversions [from owner-occupied to student rental]. [Can't this be attributed in part to the economy? The housing market, I've heard, is a wee bit shy of its all-time high. As easy and sometimes specious credit disappears, more people are demanding rentals everywhere in the country, creating a really tight rental market not just for students, but for everyone. -Ed.] Article includes details of the ban. [I wonder what rental rates are like in Uptown or the Wedge neighborhood Minneapolis? I wonder what density was like in this neighborhood historically, when these houses were built? -Ed.]

Headline: Neighbors seek more stringent limits on UST liquor license
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: WSNAC opposes the application of UST for a liquor license to sell liquor at campus shindigs [probably to alumni in the hopes of getting donations. -Ed.].

Headline: Customer access keeps LRT officials hopping on University; Businesses are feeling pinched by project, but just as many are opening as closing
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The LRT is 20% finished. [As is the Highland Villager's kvetching?] Boilerplate piece on business complaints, construction chaos, and difficulty faced by car drivers and pedestrians in navigating the street these days. Includes survey by the University Avenue Business Association about an increase in vacancy, graffiti. Includes report from the city on their loan program aimed at helping businesses cope with the decrease in business.

Headline: University-Prior commercial building's days may be numbered; Longtime retail tenants are being asked to move
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on the impending sale and demolition of the Zimmerman Building on the corner of University and Prior. It is likely to become a new headquarters for Habitat for Humanity. Article includes gobs of nifty history of the building, which dates to 1926 and has was connected to a next-door horse market. It currently houses a barber shop, a liquor store, a print shop[, and probably other stuff too].

Headline: Committee favors return of West 7th car wash, with conditions
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A car wash on West 7th street was shut down but is likely to re-open. Its currently a non-conforming use. Some people nearby don't like the noise of its exhaust fan.

Headline: William Frost would be proud; Over the years, the Dacotah has regained its role as a gathering place at Selby and Western aves.
Reporter: Lisa Heinrich

Short short version: Nice fluff piece on the awesome Dacotah building, home to WA Frost. The building dates to 1899 and has been a soda fountain, a bar, a pharmacy, and a place where F. Scott Fitzgerald shopped. Article includes quotes from Larry Millett.

Headline: Partial parking ban to pave way for new bike route on Prior Ave.
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Prior Avenue will get sharrows between Summit and Marshall and a bike lane between Marshall and Pierce Butler. [I talked to a bike guy about this, and the city claimed the street was too narrow for a consistent bike lane along Prior without removing street parking. According to the city, removing street parking was not an option. -Ed.] Article includes quote from neighbor referring to the plan as a “nightmare,” other similar histrionics. Article includes happy seeming quote from St Paul Bike Coalition co-chair [and kick-ass cartoonist] Andy Singer.

Headline: Watershed District unveils plan for protecting Crosby Park lakes
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Crosby Lake water is going to be protected somehow.

Headline: City House plans get mixed reception
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The St Paul Planning Commission has given a permit for an old grain house and elevator to become a “reception hall.” The old building, called “city house”, is from the 1940s and was once part of a large grain elevator thing along the river used by a historically pioneering farmer's co-op.

Headline: Vote on Jefferson Ave. diverter postponed.
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The St Paul Public Works Dept requested a postponement on the [for some reason controversial] traffic diverter at Cleveland and Jefferson. The City Council was set to vote up or down on the traffic median on the 17th, but now there is no date set for a vote. Article includes quote from Planning Commission Transportation Committee member Jessica Treat suggesting another meeting on the issue. Article includes summary of the issue to date, plus quotes from city engineer John Maczko and Transit for Liveable Communities head Barb Thoman. [I'd like to say “only in St Paul,” but I know that this same kind of shenanigan occurs in every city in America.]

Headline: Merrian Park neighbors oppose plans for Pelham site
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighbors are complaining about an old trucking site near the freeway which the St Paul Port Authority has been cleaning up, intending to re-use it for industry. Neighbors would rather see commercial or residential land use.

Headline: Plans progress for new Culver's, Midway Commons
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Two buildings on University near Pascal will probably become a Culver's, with a drive-thru for which the restaurant would require a special permit from the city. [The whole point of the LRT line was to cut back on drive thrus, wasn't it? -Ed.]

Headline: Sign variance OK'd for Jimmy John's restaurant on West 7th
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Jimmy John's on West 7th will get to add another “wall sign” to its already imposing collection of signage.

Headline: Developers cite progress in reuse of old Schmidt Brewery
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on the work being don at the Schmidt Brewery. The roof was “in poorer shape than previously thought.” [Not surprising at all, this. -Ed.]

Headline: Council on fast track to approve West End zoning changes
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Hard to decipher article [buried deep in the back of the Villager] on how lots of properties on the West End of West 7th Street will be re-zoned to restrict conversion into multi-family homes. Includes quote from lone St Paul Planning Commission (SPPC) dissenter, Trevor Oliver, who called the plan “pandering” [and questioned whether the SPPC should] indulge every request that affordable housing not be on someone's block.” Includes spicy rebuttal from different SPPC member who retorted, “I could dissect every point of your argument and tell you how wrong you are.” [Woah! Quite the fireworks! -Ed.] Article includes how moratoriums would pose problems for redeveloping the old Northwestern Tire store, the Bonfe shop, the former fire station, and the former Kraus-Anderson building. Article ends with the out of place sentence: “The long-term intent is to promote mixed-use redevlopment and to protect the neighborhood against an abundance of auto-related uses and institutional expansion.” [Don't we all, Highland Villager? Don't we all... -Ed.]

1 comment:

Alex said...

That West End zoning study is really outrageous. For one thing, zoning code requires that duplex lots be at least 6000 square feet and 50 feet wide - that's a typical lot size for Richfield, not St Paul. For another, the median lot size in the West End is 4797 square feet - that's plenty of room for a semi-detached structure.

But most outrageous of all is that St Paul would have a planning commissioner who argues in favor of the rezoning by saying "quality affordable housing means having a place where kids can go outside and play in the yard, and where people are not using their microwave as a stove. I guess according to Commissioner Roxanne Young quality affordable housing can't exist in most of the world.