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Thursday, January 24, 2008

St. Paul / Streetscape renewal finally gets dollars

Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.

9 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

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$4.2 million approved to renovate blighted properties citywide
BY DAVE ORRICK
Pioneer Press
Article Last Updated: 01/23/2008 11:42:53 PM CST


The money is now ready to start flowing through St. Paul's marquee program to try to turn around rows of shabby houses and eyesore businesses.

On Wednesday, the Housing and Redevelopment Authority approved a $4.2 million spending plan targeting six pockets throughout the city as part of Invest St. Paul, a broader, $25 million effort to prop up struggling sections of the city. It's been a year since the program, conceived by Mayor Chris Coleman, was announced and five months since funding was approved.

Although it wasn't pitched as a response to the spikes in foreclosures and vacant houses, the areas being targeted are some of the hardest-hit by the falling housing market. And so far, the program, which uses sales-tax proceeds to pay back loans, is among the biggest financial tools the city has to pour money into neighborhoods where it's been draining out.

Since Coleman announced the program, the city's vacant-housing list has nearly doubled, while no money to buy homes has been spent. And it'll still take a few months before the city actually buys any property and undoubtedly longer before change is visible.

What took so long?

Planning.

"A lot of night meetings with a lot of neighborhood groups," said Cecile Bedor, director of the city's Department of Planning and Economic Development, which is running Invest St. Paul. "One of our goals is that the neighborhoods need to own these efforts."

City planners met with residents, neighborhood district councils and community development corporations to draw up specific strategies. The neighborhoods involved range from Battle Creek to Thomas-Dale, and city officials didn't want to dictate which properties to buy and what to do with them. Instead, they wanted neighborhoods to come up with the plans themselves.
"And that stuff takes time," Bedor said.

To do otherwise, Coleman said, would be a mistake.

"These are neighborhoods that have been subject to disinvestment for years," he said. "This is a long-term investment, not an overnight fix."

It's worth the wait, said City Council President Kathy Lantry, whose 7th Ward includes Dayton's Bluff, one of the areas designated to receive money. She said residents there told city planners that despite a rising number of neglected properties, they didn't want to see the area's Victorian homes fall prey to the wrecking ball.

"Our planning folks got the message loud and clear: Wholesale demolition is not the answer," Lantry said. Instead, the city will look to buy homes that can be rehabbed and resold.

Lantry said she wished the money could have been spent a year ago.

"Part of my general frustration with everything government does is it seems to take an amazing amount of time," she said. "On the other hand, you wouldn't want to charge ahead with what could be an extraordinary redevelopment effort without consulting everyone involved."

Dave Orrick can be reached at dorrick@pioneerpress.com or 651-292-1159.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Now we will see if the City plans to buy the properties at a fair price or steal them through condemnation and illegal code enforcement as has been their present plan.

1:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Henry, my understanding is that all of these would be properties that are already on the market and more than likely bank owned.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That will be a difficult transition for the city to pay a fair price when they are used to getting their properties for free after they have caused the owner to walk away. Next year I suppose we'll have a 34 million dollar budget gap and still a crap neighborhood to show for it.

2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck you might be right but what caused the house into forclosure?

I think we can all agree with the city's obsessive code enforcement and vacant building protocal they caused forclosures also.


Tim Ciani

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim - the facts just aren't there. There is a crisis in the United States with foreclosers. Many areas are doing worse than Saint Paul.

Do you expect me to believe that the tens of thousands of homes that are in forecloser in Las Vegas and Miami are result of the code enforsement actions of the City of Saint Paul?

Come on folks get real. Go through the council records there aren't 50 homes a year that the city condems and there are more than 100 homes a month that are going into forecloser.

JMONTOMEPPOF

Chuck Repke

10:46 AM  
Anonymous henry said...

Foreclosures may be the main reason for the increase in vacant homes now, but it wasn't the reason in the past. Past reasons were linked to illegal code enforcement.

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who gives a shit anyways, St Paul is on it's last leg. They are going to be bankrupt when the landlords win, and they will, except the city cannot file bankruptcy. The taxes are going to continue going up which is going to cause everyone who can to move out of the city and the only thing left is going to be government, non profits, crime and the poor that the city so desperatly tried to chase out.

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since January 1, 2008 there have already been nine burglaries in St. Paul where copper pipe was taken during the burglary. Eight of the nine burglaries were vacant properties and the other incident was a construction site. In several of these incidents neighbors reported seeing someone they thought was a construction worker so they didn’t pay attention to the person or vehicle, and did not call the police.

We are asking for your help in reporting suspicious activity in your neighborhood, especially around vacant properties. When a vacant property is broken into, it sometimes remains unsecured and this can attract other criminal activity. This creates additional problems in your neighborhood when people use the unsecured property as a location to use or sell drugs and have loud parties.

We recently made an arrest in a case in the East District because the neighbors called the police and the suspect was caught. Unfortunately this is only one suspect of many who are committing this type of crime.

No one wants vacant properties in their neighborhood, but until the economy and the housing market turn around they are a fact of life. Please help us keep your neighborhood safe by reporting suspicious activity. Call 911 to report suspicious activity in your neighborhood. The vacant property may not be yours, but the neighborhood is.

A/Commander Dan Anderson
St Paul Police Department
East District
dan.anderson@ci.stpaul.mn.us
Office 651-266-5566

Leslie K. Lucht

7:12 PM  

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