Artistic neighborhood wants to preserve character amid light rail development

A little over two years ago, I attended the first meeting of St. Anthony Park residents who wanted to preserve the eclectic and artistic character of their neighborhood while also embracing a Central Corridor Light Rail stop on their main thoroughfare.

They decided they wanted to create a “Creative Enterprise Zone” that could be written into St. Paul’s comprehensive plan. At the time, St. Anthony Park organizers like Catherine Reid Day worried about sustaining residents’ interest in the project. But, as a group, they followed through. They wrote up a plan for the Zone that was approved unanimously by the city’s Neighborhood Planning Committee. On Friday, the Zone goes before St. Paul’s Planning Commission as a proposed amendment. Its exact language may be tweaked before then, but this is the version in the planning commission’s Friday packets:

The City of Saint Paul recognizes an area called the Creative Enterprise Zone in South St. Anthony Park, bounded by Interstate 94 on the south, Prior Avenue on the east, the railroad tracks south of Energy Park Drive to the north and the boundary of Minneapolis to the west. The City will work with District 12 to stabilize and advance conditions in which creative enterprises – light industry, artisans and artists — can thrive in this area, including:

• Consideration of a special designation for the zone, such as a development district, to help advance job retention and creation for workers in light industry, artisans and artists.

• Project support through site preparation, zoning, cleanup, design standards, financial incentives, tax credits and/or financing, as available and appropriate.

• Consideration of infrastructure improvements that encourage a livable, mixed-use transit oriented neighborhood recognized and sustained as a center of creativity and enterprise such as pedestrian friendly corridors, pocket parks, greenways and facade improvements.

The Neighborhood Planning Commission is recommending that the Planning Commission have a public hearing on the proposed amendment March 8.

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