Reading the Highland Villager #23 (September 1 - 14 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: 11
Total # of articles about sidewalks written by Jane McClure*: 10

Headline: Effort begins to rebuild St. Paul; city provides $15M to jump-start stalled projects and create additional jobs
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on Mayor Coleman's recent announcement of how TIF money and “federal dollars” will help motivate investors and developers to start construction projects all through the city. Includes tibdbit that all the projects need to be started by July 2011. Includes list of projects: Highland Park Aquatic Center, Como Park pool, Cayuga Bridge, Central Corridor, Penfield condo/grocery, &c &c. Includes laudatory quote from Chamber of Commerce prez., construction unions.

Headline: Ford says it will close plant as scheduled in 2011; Package of tax incentives fails to sway automaker
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Despite the pleas of Mayor Coleman and Governor [BridgeFAIL] Pawlenty, the Ford plant in Highland Park is not going to remain in business. Includes details of the history of auto manufacturing in the US. Article does not speculate about what to do with the 122 acres of riverfront land.

Headline: Walgreens project ushers in a redesign of 25-year-old Highland Village streetscape; Amenities selected for sidewalk in front of new stores may be replicated throughout the village
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The new Walgreen's store is going to have a new sidewalk design, and the Highland Business Assn (HBA) would like to see a new plan because most people in Highland hate the [really slippery in wintertime] paving stones currently along the sidewalks that were installed in 1985. [Really early for such attentive, if flawed, streetscape design! -Ed.] List of complaints about current sidewalk includes: paving stones that “are popping up”, cracks and heaves, and trees that are being “choked by the metal grates”. List of streetscape suggestions includes: “gray-toned sidewalk with patterned concrete closest to the street and a long decorative metal drain parallel to the street”, fancy Victorian-esque double streetlamps, areas for plants, “silva cells” for root drainage for plants / trees. Also includes some kvetching by businesses (e.g. Walgreens) about costs of assessments.

Headline: Rebuilt initiative to bolster plans for Schmidt Brewery
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on Schmidt Brewery redevelopment plans [see last fortnight's Villager] that claims “developers are confident that the $76M project is finally moving ahead”, though it may take a long time. [Read: 'a really loooong time'. -Ed.] Brewery to get $1M in TIF money from the city as part of Mayor's plan mentioned above. Current development plan is for a “mixed-use urban village” w/ lots of housing and commercial space. Developer is a coalition of the local neighborhood group, “Dominium Development” [yikes!] and something named Welsh Companies. Goes into detail about where and how everything would happen. [All the detail about the developers and which-parcels-will-be-what makes me slightly more optimistic that this might actually happen, at least sometime in the next decade. -Ed.]

Headline: Though now empty, brewery has long played role in West End's history
Reporter: Lisa Heinrich

Short short version:Historical piece about the brewery. History of Christopher Stahlmann's cave, Schmidt family, Schmidt beer, prohibition, the ethanol plant, etc. Most interesting factoid: leveraged buyout in 1987 by an Australian “bond corporation” [uncreatively named "Australian Bond Corporation"] screwed the employees and killed the company, though the shareholders made a hefty profit. [Same thing pretty much happened to Northwest Airlines, though it took longer to die. -Ed.]

Headline: City Council takes proposed sign at I-94 and Pascal down a peg [Witty! -Ed.]
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Along a 4-3 vote, the proposed [yet unnamed] big box hardware store at Snelling and I-94 will not be allowed a variance to erect a 60 ft. sign. Vote fell along typical business v. community group lines, with Boston, Helgen and Harris supporting the tall-sign variance. Includes interesting detail about how the contractors worked furiously to make sure the foundation was completed before the 'current site plan' expired and the development would have to comply with new transit-oriented development requirements.

Headline: Federal court ruling is not a good sign for billboard foes
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: St Paul lost a recent appellate ruling in a legal battle w/ Clear Channel over a city ban on billboard extensions. The nonprofit groups Scenic Minnesota and Scenic Saint Paul are behind the initiative to ban the extensions.

Headline: Efforts on track to preserve Selby Ave. streetcar tunnel
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A group's quest to “commemorate” the [completely awesome -Ed.] Selby Avenue streetcar tunnel took a step forward then the local planning council agreed to team up to request money. The tunnel fans want to up a plaque near the entrance.

Headline: St Paul finds regulations on sidewalk cafes come up short
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Because there are lots more sidewalk cafes than there used to be, the City Council adopted an ordinance to better control where they can and cannot exist and/or serve booze. Sidewalk cafes must now be “compact and contiguous”, and must allow for space for peds to pass by. Includes gripe from Councilmember Thune about how people with wheelchairs or walkers don't have room to pass by. [I wonder which particular cafe he's thinking of? -Ed.]

Headline: Historic Uppertown; Preservation status may be in store for West End district
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Non-profit Histroric Saint Paul and the MHS are looking at whether or not to designate “Uppertown” [the area right at the bottom end of the High Bridge. -Ed.] should be a historic district, It seems they are basically doing a survey of the neighborhood (along w/ Frogtown and Payne/Phalen) to see whether or not many of the homes and buildings are old and/or historic.

Headline: Light-rail rezoning raises red flags for property owners
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: It seems lots of people don't like the new “dense, mixed-use, pedestrian oriented” development zoning changes going in along the light rail route. [At least, it seems that business owners and “tenants and advocacy groups” are attending meetings to complain. -Ed.] A lot of the zoning changes involves the TN zoning category, which will allow for mixed-use development and taller [perhaps up to 12-story in places] buildings. Singled out as being particularly sqeaky wheels: the St Paul Port Authority [they of the ultra-low density strip-mall developments along the West End of University Avenue. -Ed.], the St Paul Federal Credit Union, and long-time citizen of note [and very well-named] Metric Giles. Article buries quote from Episcopal Homes CEO, who likes the change.

* The hardest working woman in local journalism.

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