Three east metro cities join forces to renew the intersection where they meet

2021-11-27 16:30:00 –

Rice Street and Rapentua Avenue are the busiest intersections of the three major cities of Ramsey County. However, leaders at St. Paul, Roseville, and Maplewood admit that this place and the working-class neighborhood that surrounds it have been removed from everyone’s radar.

“I think it was just lost,” said Mary Lee Abrams, Mayor of Maplewood. “We were all looking at our city, turning our backs on each other.”

The once forgotten intersection is now at the center of neighborhood reconstruction.Ramsey County and three cities were formed Rice & Rapenteur Alliance In 2016, each spent money and time on their efforts. After five years of work, you’ll see concrete results such as new parks, businesses, housing, sidewalks, and other pedestrian and road improvements.

“The change is incredible,” said Kim O’Brien, executive director of the alliance. “It’s all happening as a result of the gathering of three cities.”

City leaders are also cracking down on problematic areas such as the now closed nightclub in Maplewood, the devastated apartment complex in Roseville, and St. Paul’s only strip club.

“We’re just all in attendance,” said Amy Blendmorne, chairman of the St. Paul City Council, including the North End. “It took a long time to make a visible change, but we finally crossed that important mark.”

It was Blendmorne who invited Mayor Maplewood and Mayor Roseville to lunch five years ago to discuss the issues and possibilities of Rice and Rapentur. Filled with understated mid-century homes and apartments, the area has long been an affordable immigrant haven. Many Hmong, Karen, and Nepalese call it their hometown.

In 2016, the intersection was dotted with independent storefronts such as strip malls, fast food restaurants, and gas stations with shutters.

“We really decided to change our mood. We didn’t want to get rid of the people there. The decision we made was to serve the existing community.”

The alliance was formed by cities investing money to study the area and hire a full-time managing director. Its position is within the St. Paul Regional Chamber of Commerce. Cities are investing and taking enforcement measures against problematic assets.

Roseville converted the vacant lot into a unity park and playground, worked with the developers to dismantle the abandoned gas station and build a shopping area.

The city also revoked the rental license for 277 units of Marion Street / Brittany apartments and urged owners to hire a new management company to improve their health and safety by more than $ 1 million.There are no refugees and the license is Resurrection..

And some of the new homes for the first time in years are being built on the Roseville side of the intersection. Holiday home on Lake McCarron Includes 20 5.5-acre single-family homes with access to the lake.

Meanwhile, St. Paul addressed one of the most obvious and embarrassing problems at the crossroads. There were no sidewalks in the corners of the capital, and pedestrians had to navigate what Blendmorne described as a dirty “cow path” parallel to the uneven parking lots of strip malls. Many.

“It was a real tragedy,” said Blendmorne. “It was a big deal to change that.”

The city worked with real estate owners to renovate the parking lot and add benches, fencing, sidewalks with greenery and parklets. The parking lot is now hosting seasonal festivals and local events, and next year the signboards near Rice & Rapentour will be up.

The law firm in St. Paul in the same corner investigating License for lamp lighter strip clubs as directed by the city council. Police frequently visited the club due to assaults, brawls, shootings and other turmoil, and a young woman was shot dead in the parking lot in the summer of 2020.

Blendmorn said the investigation was underway, but the club owner is “notifying.”

“They are no longer in the forgotten corner of the city,” she said. “We are paying attention.”

After a surge in violence and shooting, the Maplewood City Council Stargate Nightclub At the corner of the intersection. The club owners agreed to waive their liquor license in 2017, and the site is now a grocery store and a market and restaurant called Nepalese Kitchen.

Alliance and Maplewood leaders are also working with developers of new homes on 13 acres of Rice Street Gardens owned by the St. Paul’s Regional Water Department. Mayor Abrams said he is seeking a partnership with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity with the goal of adding affordable housing while preserving community gardens.

Ramsey County, which maintains the roads of Rice and Rapentur, has invested in vehicle and pedestrian safety. County in 2019 in response to the deaths of two pedestrians Converted We have extended Rapentur from 4 lanes to 2 lanes and added a left turn lane. The county has also added a pedestrian crossing in front of the Community School of Excellence Charter School for further improvement.

“The beauty of this project is a true public-private partnership where the beautiful diversity of three cities, one county, and the community brings together to make a big investment,” said Trista Matas Castillo, Ramsey County Commissioner.

The alliance’s comprehensive goal was to foster a sense of community identity, celebrate its strengths, and involve residents and businesses.

St. Paul’s homeowner and landlord Catherine Schneider said he was enthusiastic about the neighborhood and was excited that these investments, from playgrounds to new trash cans, made it more attractive. ..

“I really like their work,” said Schneider, director of St. Paul’s North End neighborhood and organizer of Rice Street Gardens.

Schneider also said he was pleased that city leaders had a frank conversation about evacuation and gentrification, with a focus on serving the people who currently live in the neighborhood. She enjoys a restaurant with holes in the local walls and said she could see the area prosper someday as an East Metro version of Eat Street in Minneapolis.

One of the most visible investments is the $ 30 million Community School of Excellence on Rapenture Avenue. The Hmong language and culture-focused school enrolls 1,500 students and employs 150 staff. Opened in 2017, its leaders are already discussing expansion.

Kazoua Kong-Thao, the school’s chief administrator, grew up in the area and now owns a home there. She said the affection she and other residents had for it was not always shared by elected officials.

“This area was added later,” said Kong-Thao. “There wasn’t much development, love, or support.”

Kong-Thao and other school officials are members of the alliance, and she said she still has a lot to do.

Kong-Thao recently said he took his family to a picnic at Lake McCullon County Park and was disappointed to see the broken glass and trash. She is already brainstorming how schools and alliances can tackle the problem.

“The little things we actually do make our community more vibrant. There are many good things in the neighborhood,” said Kong-Thao. “We want to change the story. This is a vibrant community and see all the great things that are happening.”

Three east metro cities join forces to renew the intersection where they meet Source link Three east metro cities join forces to renew the intersection where they meet

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