Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Slow Down for Art..another cool traffic calming project from the neighborhood that brought you "Paint the Pavement"

Last night, driving on Thomas Avenue in my Hamline-Midway neighborhood, I started noticing all of these random signs posted in the boulevards. I thought they were some interesting art project, perhaps sponsored by J&S coffee shop. Then I saw the Pioneer Press today and learned that they are part of a traffic calming effort devised by local artist Steven Woodward and coordinated with the Department of Public Works. From the article:
"Woodward said he chose images that are meant to convey — in a matter of seconds — the following information: People live here. These are people's homes. You should slow down...For example, a series of the signs is of a mother and child — an image he said should obviously evoke a sense of serenity and safety in drivers' minds. "You see a mother and child. What says protectiveness better than that?" he asked."
Check out the signs on Hamline Avenue between Charles and Blair and on Thomas Avenue between Pascal and Griggs. And while you're at it, check out the Paint the Pavement projects in our neighborhood too.

Images Copyright © by Steven Woodward. Read more here.

Rolling out the Red Carpet--St. Paul's Very Clever Retail Recruitment Plan

During the past few weeks, I've been reading the articles about the "Red Carpet Campaign," St. Paul's retail recruitment strategy for filling storefront vacancies during the Republican National Convention. The city, working with the Chamber of Commerce and the local Building Owners and Managers Association chapter, is offering very short-term leases, in some cases for a couple of weeks, at significantly reduced rates, to encourage businesses to try out a downtown St. Paul location for a spell. The Chamber is administering the program--being a matchmaker between tenants and building owners/managers--which helps to eliminate the competition between owners as well as making it easier on them by delivering tenants to their door.

Arguably, the RNC will be creating an unrealistic volume of customers, but I think it will be interesting to see which of the businesses decide to stick around to see if they can thrive in the capital city. According to Dave Orrick's article in yesterday's Pioneer Press, one such businesswoman, Stacey Finnegan, owner of Il Vostro Boutique, is taking out a 6-month lease. Finnegan says in the article:
"I'm not really looking at the RNC as a litmus test, because it'll be a false negative or positive," she said. "We'd been considering secondary location options, and it was a perfect storm. There's some nice incentives in downtown St. Paul without the commitment for a five- to 10-year lease."
I heartily applaud St. Paul for piloting this incredibly innovative and unique approach. As central business districts around the country struggle with attracting and retaining retail, a common strategy is to dish out lots of tax breaks and other higher cost incentives. The Red Carpet campaign relies on partnerships with building owners, it allows smaller businesses and those considering new locations to get their feet wet in St. Paul without a major cash commitment, and it is set up so that building owners, small businesses, and the city are all winners in the end.

image: Twin Cities Daily Photo

Monday, July 28, 2008

West End Arts and the Pilney

Driving on West 7th, near Randolph Avenue in St. Paul I took a close look at the Pilney Building today. It's very "Flatiron-esque" and is now home to the West End Arts "Scene and Be Scene" visual arts show. It's old news now, but the exhibit is showcasing the work of West End artists until August 2nd. So get yourself out to this great historic neighborhood, check out all of the coffee shops and old school bars along West 7th, and be part of one of the city's newest art scenes.

image: PixelboyMN

Monday, July 14, 2008

Get to NOMI (get it, Know Me? and NOMI = North Minneapolis)

Get to know Minneapolis' Northside with some enthusiastic residents! The GLBT Northsider's are hosting a homebuyers tour on Thursday, July 24th 6:30 - 9PM (they also hosted one on the 10th). The tour will be kicked off with a reception and then a tour of a few for-sale homes in several North Minneapolis neighborhoods. For questions or to register for the Home Buyer's Tour on July 24th, e-mail mynewneighbor@gmail.com and include your contact information and how many will be in your party.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Theresa Handy's extraordinary landscapes

I have loved Theresa Handy's work since I saw a couple of her paintings at last year's "SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder): Illuminating a Northern View of Darkness" exhibit at the Weisman. Then I saw a group show of hers at GalleryCo and fell even more in love. And the truth is, I keep loving it! So if you haven't seen her work, let me make the introduction and encourage you to check out the catalog of her work, here.

All images: Theresa Handy.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

DIY St. Paul walking tours

While on the St. Paul Phototour website, I discovered that Joe Hoover has posted a bunch of neighborhood walking tour maps. They bring you into some pretty interesting parts of the city. Here's the sampling along with the links:

Dayton's Bluff Historic District:

Take a driving tour of the some of the neighborhood's most important sites of interest. -- PDF Map 370k

Take a walking tour of St. Paul's historic and scenic Yoerg's Bluff (West Side) and Uppertown (West 7th) neighborhoods and the Mississippi River. -- PDF Map 488k

Phalen Creek / Burlington Northern Trail:
Take this printable PDF map with you and go hike in Swede Hollow and Phalen Creek -- PDF Map 54k

State Capitol Monuments Tour:
A walking tour of the monuments and memorials on the State Capitol Mall -- PDF Map 24k

"Slum it on Summit" Walking Tour:
Walk Summit Avenue and take-in some of the finest architecture in St. Paul -- PDF Map 120k

Labor History Tour:
The factories, and humble homes of the working class have a history to tell all of their own. -- PDF Map 156k

Payne Avenue--love that Main Street

Payne Avenue, on the east side of Saint Paul, is an architecturally outstanding commercial corridor. For quite a few blocks south of Maryland Avenue and down to Phalen Blvd, Payne is lined with 1-5 story historic buildings. It's like a mini, urban version of Main Street in Stillwater or downtown Red Wing. If you've got a hankering for Mexican food, it's also a great place to go! Check out these photos:
All images from: Joe Hoover at St. Paul Photo Tour