An article in the Star Tribune has a title that says it all: “Some in St. Paul’s Frogtown worry it’s gentrifying.” The Frogtown neighborhood in St. Paul has long been known for its diverse residents and cheap living. Lately, however, some residents have been forced to move elsewhere as they’ve been priced-out. Prices have increased due to several reasons. First off, the overall Twin Cities housing stock has risen in value. Frogtown is conveniently located near downtown St. Paul, along the Green Line, and with great proximity to both I94 and 35E. So, when people can’t find an affordable place to live elsewhere, Frogtown seems like a pretty desirable consolation, at least based on location. With more demand in the area, simple economics will nudge prices up. From a home values perspective, the aforementioned article shares that over 50% of the neighborhood’s single-family homes rose at least 10% in value in the past year, while roughly 13% of the stock increased at least 30%. Rents have also increased – an important note since, as the article states, over half of the neighborhood’s residents are renters.
Along with simple economics being cause for increased prices and rent, the area has seen some recent investment and development aimed at providing more high-quality amenities. The Frogtown Park and Farm has been around for less than 3 years, and it offers a wonderful, 13 acres of natural space for residents to relax and practice leisure; it is a great asset to an inner-city neighborhood. The Kings Crossing senior living home, mentioned in the article, has also done much to move the neighborhood in the right direction. Yes – it's subsidized housing, but the beautiful building was built in keeping with benefitting the neighborhood as a whole, with convenient, fresh retail on the street level. The local library is also St. Paul’s most highly used, and it received a welcome facelift last summer. And with the hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into the Midway area just west of Frogtown, there’s bound to be some trickling effect east.
As described in the article, gentrification may be measured by rising property values, increased rents, and higher education levels reached amongst residents (according to the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, or CURA). Based on these benchmarks, CURA has found basis for gentrification in the area, or at least signs that it’s on the way. The tough decision will be what the city can do to ease the plight of current residents being priced out of their homes, while still welcoming improvements to the area. And with what’s bound to be some change in the demographics of the area, residents and leaders would do well to act with intention surrounding the morphing identity of the neighborhood.
Photo By Jjlava - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62466706