What would it take for you to see downtown St. Paul as a destination?

The historic Union Depot in St. Paul will reopen to the public this weekend, 41 years after the last train left the station. The $243 million makeover is seen as key to helping revitalize downtown St. Paul. Today’s Question: What would it take for you to see downtown St. Paul as a destination?

  • James

    Let me get this straight. $243 million of whose money to restore a facility that went into disuse because it had no use? This is the kind of investment that justifies right wing rants about too much government!

    Now we have a beautiful subsidized facility whose main purpose and aspiration is to be a terminal for subsidized train and bus service. Excellent investment!

    Back to the question at hand. People will go downtown for games, culture, gambling, shopping, eating and booze. St Paul might benefit from an “entertainment zone.” It might also benefit from its hockey team and symphony orchestra not being on strike.

    Once the LRT links St Paul to Minneapolis, there could be a condo boom in St Paul, even without a lot of new jobs in St Paul. And at least in theory, the condo boom might support the development and financial health of an entertainment zone.

    Or more practically, St Paul could give up the chase and allow Minnesota to develop one world class downtown, in Minneapolis, instead of 2 mediocre downtowns, 10 miles apart.

  • Denise

    A Hemporium.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Having friends there I’d like to visit would make it a destination.

  • Carl

    Cannabis cafes would make it worthwhile with museums and theaters near by.

  • CHS

    James – There is ALREADY a condo boom in St. Paul, and ‘entertainement zones’ of economic devlopment took off several years ago and have shown quite a bit of vitality. But don’t let that get in the way of a good rant about government subsidized development.

    The idea that the downtown St. Paul area is in a ‘chase’ with downtown Minneapolis is laughable. Downtown St. Paul is developing very differently than downtown Minneapolis, by necessity. They don’t need to compete, we can have two world class downtown areas, in many ways we already do.

    What would it take for people to ‘see’ downtown St. Paul as a destination? Opening their eyes.

  • Daniel

    Better headshops.

  • Gary F

    The Union Depot is a temple built for one of the gods of liberalism, Mass Transit. Lots of money that we don’t have. Seeing how well the Northstar is doing and I cant see the University Avenue doing that well either. So, with all that success, why not build even more lines!

    I live in Highland Park and am not sure what it will take to entice people downtown besides the orchestra, Wild, and someday Saints. I like Saint Paul not being Minneapolis. But, Saint Paul is becoming what it was in the days when I moved there 22 years ago during the Jim Shiebel days. I long for the days of Norm Coleman, Randy Kelly, Mike Harris, and Tom Conlon, which brought a diversity of ideas to my city.

    I’ve already made the decision in my mind to leave.

  • David

    Less Republicrats, more sovereign citizens.

  • John

    A brothel.

  • Jefferson

    All you have to do is change the name of St. Paul to Minneapolis; the confusion should cause some increase in people visiting the city formerly known as St. Paul.

  • georges

    From the MPR link above, $243 million makeover:

    “We spent a lot of money figuring out what that color was and then figuring out how to make it, because how you do paint now compared to how they did paint — the recipe is a lot different,” McDonough said. “But they’re really confident that that’s the color. And that color was intentional… it was to represent the grain fields of Minnesota.”

    And that, folks, is why we are in the financial hole, the bottomless abyss. Irresponsible self-important boneheads spending “a lot of money”, taxpayers money, figuring out the exact hue of a Minnesota grain field. This is why we don’t (if we are wise) allow liberals to run things. They are not in possession of any common sense whatsoever. They don’t care how much money they waste…..as long as it belongs to someone else.

  • Gary F


    It is a temple. That is why they are spending that much.

  • Craig

    For nightlife St. Paul already has Grand Avenue, and for strolling, Summit Avenue. I think the popularity of those two streets is due in part to the fact that they are long, straight lines. Downtown St. Paul is a bit like the older parts of Boston, hard to navigate.

    Boston solves this problem with the freedom trail, a path of bricks (about two bricks wide) inlaid into the sidewalk, leading one across streets, around corners and directly to points of interest. As long as you stay on the path there is no need to use a map or stay alert for signage, you know you won’t miss anything or get lost.

    I think this simple little idea reduces the angst of navigating a non-grid city, and makes Boston a great family destination. Downtown St. Paul might do something similar.

  • Charlotte

    Yay! That’s it! Freedom trails! Color coded perhaps? Besides the general publically agreed upon color, we’ll have pink, rainbow, green et cetera for more specific orientation cues.

  • jockamo

    St. Paul could simplify some of the silly street names.

    Such as the ridiculously clumsy Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Junior, Boulevard…….

    Good grief……..who is responsibly for that silly moniker?


  • Kristi

    Restaurants open past 9:00, not just bars!

  • Pat


  • GregX

    Not much more actually. A micro Home Depot or hardware store , a regular grocery store with pharamacy.

    Also – is helpful to see the folks that wouldn’t be moving down there … double bonus.

  • Jim G

    My wife and I ride in the St.Paul Bike Classic every September. We also go to the Science Museum, the Fitzgerald Theater, Minnesota History Museum and we’ve even gone into a few pubs after these visits. Since the advent of GPS this western suburbanite is willing to venture into the wilderness of the eastern Metro but only for a good cause, learning experience, or play. I love the pubs in the older buildings. Yeah, you need more pubs.

  • Drae

    There is very little St Paul could do to make me view the city as a destination, but that’s just me. However, I will say that downtown St Paul needs a D.I.D. like Minneapolis. (That’s a Downtown Improvement District.) Seriously, navigating downtown St. Paul is about as much fun as a migraine. Minneapolis’ DID keeps the streets clean, helps people find where they want to go, helps those in need find resources and provides assistance to paramedics and police. They are an invaluable resource and St. Paul would do well to form their own DID.

  • GregX

    what the heck needs striping now … the streets, candy canes, a barber pole??

  • Gary F

    You mean downtown St Paul needs its own version of Block E? Yikes.

  • Linda in Plymouth

    Lets keep spending until there are no more middle class and upper people left to pay taxes. That is smart?

    I’d see downtown as a destination when Obama and his friends at C.A.I.R. all choose to leave the country starting off at the bus station. why?

    Because he had CAIR and other terrorist supporters invited to the White House. “.The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its sister organization, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), have been controversial over the years and recently were systematically involved in the 2012 presidential elections in getting American Muslims out to vote for President Obama in the swing states of Florida, Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Those states election results became controversial due to voter irregularities and allegations of voter fraud in favor of President Obama. ”

  • Zabazoom

    Use drunken Irishmen as guides.

  • Drae

    Uh, Linda? What do Islamic organizations have to do with the question? The words “grasping” and “straws” come to mind.

  • John the C

    Bring back public hangings, those were real popular back in the day, or so I hear.

  • El President

    Make Saturday night topless night and I will be there as fast as you can say depends on what the meaning of is is.

    WJ Clinton

  • anna123

    The SPCO playing again.

  • Mary

    Signs of life after 5:00 on a weekend.

  • Soo

    A three hour visitation pass on the new light rail that lets you move around longer distances than walking alone would, plus good instructions on how and where to easily park remotely if using light rail. Parking is and always has been the big problem visiting downtown St Paul especially during business hours. Coffee shops near points of interest to allow an inexpensive place to tarry and rest before moving on. Sidewalk poems were really very neat in NYC, and I’ve seen some very nice ones in some of the St Paul neighborhoods, as well. These are nice touches, non-obtrusive, and make a statement that we care about our downtown. A good example of this low profile sculpture is also the stone ribbon cutting through flower beds and the sidewalk on the east side of the Minneapolis Convention Center: small unexpected pleasures that reward the visitor and make you want to return. Little treasures, like some of the small downtown St Paul parks are becoming.

  • Elizabeth

    Crosby and Nash. Or CSN.

    Otherwise – if the streets were easier to navigate…. maybe so.

  • jockamo

    Seeing as Governor Goofy says, “No legal pot for you, Minnesotans!”, maybe St. Paul should legalize weed and open a bunch of headshops downtown…..


  • kevins

    As an out-stater, I enjoy the mysterious navigation problems I run into in St. Paul. My wife, second daughter and I did at least 7 circuits past the ice palace one January trying to find a way back to something that looked like a freeway. My daughter was one of 5 high schoolers invited to speak at the first annual “I have a dream” competition at the Excel Center. Tons of fun, and we were the only white people there….would do it again any time. BTW Linda, I am trying to figure out how to tie this to Obama, but I lack your talents…can you help me with St. Paul? But no, as I suspect you have not been there…Oh well.

  • Leonard

    Dayton can fix this issue in St Paul.

    The DFL majorities calls for massive tax hikes to cover a budget shortfall of $1.1 billion. Not surprisingly, AFSCME was first out of the gate this morning with a request for $6 billion in new taxes.In 2010, candidate Dayton promised AFSCME, he’d be their ally in the Governor’s office if he was elected. I’m sure they’re expecting something from the DFL majorities after spending over $400,000 this past year to elect Democrats. For AFSCME, Governor Dayton and the DFL, there will always be room to grow government and spend more taxpayer money.

    Two years ago, our state faced a budget shortfall of $5 billion. GOP budgeting over the past two years has brought the projected shortfall for 2014-2015 from $9 billion down to just $1.1 billion, with a surplus of $1.3 billion coming out of the current biennium. More massive tax increases are not the right answer for any Minnesotan.

  • Bob

    Where is downtown St. Paul?

  • CLee

    I know I’m late answering and no one will even read this, but I think St Paul needs to liven up on the weekends. I haven’t been there in a long time, because the last time I did go with my two kids for an afternoon in the Capital city, we wandered around for a long time just trying to find anything that was open. We finally gave up and drove back to our suburb for lunch. I said at the time that St Paul is the most boring capital city in the nation.

    I moved here from the Seattle area and we used to spend many weekend days in Seattle. We would park the car at Seattle Center, go to the Science Museum and then take the monorail downtown and have lunch and visit Pike Place Market. Maybe it’s not fair to compare St Paul with Seattle, but even my home town of 120,000 people with a 4 block downtown area has more vim and vigor than St Paul on a Sunday afternoon.

    I know it’s a catch 22, but you have to have happenings for people to come to and you have to have people to make the happenings happen. In order for a city to be a destination it has to have energy and excitement. The folks in charge need to figure out how to get something happening; publicize it so people will come and keep building on that foundation. What about free music in any open areas; a MN University style “City Connector” so you can park in one place and get all over; improved signage; eating and shopping in areas that are safe and comfortable to walk around in and are also open for business; how about some personality?

    If and when any of those things happen, it better be on the news because I’m not wasting another Sunday afternoon trying to find a sign of life in St Paul and that’s too bad for the State Capital.

  • David Poretti

    I too am late to the conversation, but if anyone in city hall reads this, take a look at similar sized metro-areas in Europe. Plazas, public art, beer gardens, more public art and still more public art, small, inviting parks, public music, safe, pedestrian welcoming sidewalks and streets, core downtown streets closed to vehicles, really good public transportation (clean, safe, frequent and affordable), many small shops, cafes and street vendors that encourage wandering from one to the next (instead of a few large boxes that hold shoppers captive in mind-numbing environments). As citizens, we will need to change our paradigm, too. Life, and its tasks, are a journey to be enjoyed, not a trek to be endured. A city is ours to explore, not just concrete and glass cubes that we must navigate. Fellow citizens are friends you haven’t met, not strangers to be feared or competitors for the last cheap TV.

  • SteveCU

    I very accurate GPS to navigate the random snarl

    of streets in that city.

  • LRM

    I’m even later to the “game”, but downtown St. Paul has some awesome stuff. When I was a young teen, I would hang out there all the time; we’d go shopping at the stores in the World Trade Centre (next to Macy’s, formerly Dayton’s), then go to the food court, catch a movie at Galtier. Then the MOA opened and put the last nail in the coffin for dwindling downtown St. Paul.

    Downtown does have a lot- Lowertown with new restaurants is booming, Mears park has free music and movies three seasons of the year. The Artist’s Quarter has awesome jazz performances. The Science Museum, Children’s Museum and MN History Center are fun, at least for me and my family. The Ordway is wonderful. Grand Ave. has a lot of shops and restaurants; it’s a destination. Selby & Dale is active.

    The streets are confusing, unless you drive them a lot or have GPS. I find the suburbs and parts of Mpls confusing. We St. Paulites like to say it keeps out the riff-raff. But DT St. Paul does need more businesses, nightlife and PEOPLE living there. More and more people are buying condos there, we just need to keep it growing.