There's nothing like a little competition to get the creative juices flowing. Hopefully, the results of this competition, the NAIOP MN University Challenge, eventually lead to compelling and concrete development plans for a prime piece of real estate on downtown St. Paul's Kellogg Blvd and the riverfront. The competition, reported by the Pioneer Press, awards a $5,000 scholarship to the winning team out of six from the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, St. Cloud State University, Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and the University of Northern Iowa. The 5 acre site, which used to be home to West Publishing and a Ramsey County Jail (yikes!) has been taken down to the dirt by the county to try to make it more appealing for developers - a blank slate to inspire. While the winners of the University Challenge will surely be pleased with some cash and quality resume fodder, the win doesn't mean their plans will be used, according to this article from last year's competition. Some of the students' ideas may, however, inspire paid developers, or so Ramsey County must hope.
A hop skip and a jump away, the new location of the Listening House continues to be a battle front for neighbors, lawmakers, and the nonprofit. The latest news from the Star Tribune is that the Listening House has sued the city of St. Paul over the city-imposed restrictions that went into effect on 4/2. The restrictions include a 20-person daily limit (the nonprofit has consistently served over 100 people per day) and that staff members be present 2 hours before and after the center's business hours. The restrictions were put in place after neighbors complained of the nuisance the Listening House has brought to the area, with reports of intoxicated persons on residents' porches. The nonprofit, on the other hand, is pointing to what it sees as missteps by the city after the city granted approval for the move to the current location. All to be continued.
Finally, over in Merriam Park, the St. Paul city council is preparing to vote on a nine-month moratorium for real-estate demolition in the neighborhood, as reported in the Pioneer Press. The city is currently studying 46 century-old properties, trying to determine whether they should get some sort of historical designation. A historical designation would restrict structural changes to the properties and would effectively protect the homes from teardowns. On the other side of this battle, of course, are homeowners who are just trying to sell their beautiful old but unkept homes and who instead find themselves tangled up in red tape. The vote will take place on April 11.