Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rice Street Revitalization

Why Mitch continues to bag his own town, in favor of pushing ridiculous memes is beyond me. If you didn't know better (I work just off Rice street at a public middle school) you would think this part of town is a gulag.

Mitch's fiction:
Rice Street, for non-Saint Paulites, is a toilet; from University Avenue all the way up to the border with Roseville, Rice Street is a morass of skeezy bars and junkyards and blight - a little piece of Minneapolis in a part of Saint Paul that has defied the city's generally good trends, home both to nihilistic gang-bangery and blue-collar white moronism (a couple of beating deaths of black guys at biker bars over the years punctuate the endless stories of drug killings, violence, and general awfulness).

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Rice Street, in the shadow of the Capitol, is a monument to the the limits of Minnesota's "Better Life through Better Government" philosophy that obtained here from the forties through the nineties.

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It doesn't take a baloney detector to see Rice Street needs to be cleaned up; it's one of Saint Paul's most miserable main drags.
and the reality for those that chose to pay attention:
The North End Business Association formed the Rice Street Action team to identify opportunities for redevelopment and to help guide SPARC in the facade improvement effort. The Rice Street Action Team is expecting another 10 to 20 facade improvements to occur over the next year (currently 7 or 8 are in design/negotiation). Through my office (Councilmember Lee Helgen; Ward 5), I have made available addition STAR fund from the Ward 5 NIIF account to fund a crime prevention through environmental design program (CPTED) administered by District 6 and the Rice Street Beat cops.

Below are some specific examples of recent work along Rice Street:

Mama's Pizza - Facade improvements and new signage
Healtheast Clinic - New building and landscaping
Dar's Double Scoop - New ice cream shop and renovated building
Ace Auto Parts - New building with brick exterior and landscaping
Best Car Wash - New business with substantial exterior improvements
857 Rice Street - Facade improvement underway to address the blight of a 20 year vacant building
Tin Cups - New sign
Lonetti's - New sign
Father and Son Auto Parts - New sign
Monster Ink - New sign (along with several other businesses)

Projects in the works:

The Winnipeg - 28 unit housing / mix use project
The Winnipeg II - Housing / mix use project at the old flower hut site
Twin Cities Roofing - New office building / show floor
SPARC Facade Improvements

Projects with some possibility:

New grocery store
New senior housing
New KFC and other development at the Club Cancun site
New coffee shop
New restaurant next to Dar's Double Scoop
I am not trying to claim that Rice street, in the tough North End of the city, is a bed of roses, but it is a far cry from the blighted toilet Mitch claims it to be. Community leaders, neighbors, and local businesses are working diligently to improve the area and shake the stigma Mitch chooses to propagate. We as citizens have two choices, be part of the problem, or part of the solution. I look forward to the day my neighbor down the street quits his beefin', rolls up his sleeves and joins us in being part of this revitalization. But first, he needs to recalibrate his baloney detector!


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