I attended a meeting yesterday organized by the Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) Action Team, of which I am a member, and hosted by Rick Beeson at Sunrise Banks. We brought together property owners and developers from the immediate vicinity of the Raymond Ave Station to find common ground for the future development of that area. In general, I would say that many of them are taking a wait and see attitude about their plans to build on existing sites. And while the meeting began with suggestions of what was missing - coffee shops, restaurants, other retail and anchor tenants looking for space - Steve Wellington reminded the group that the area had a lot going for it. 

Obviously, the number one asset is the location, but there is some solid retail and sites that have real potential for a variety uses. The parking lots directly south of the station and even the US Bank parking lot a half block away could be used for temporary events like a Farmer's Market or food trucks that could supplement the existing options and get people out on the streets. It would also send the message to new retailers that this is a viable area. 

When you look at the developments over the past years starting with Emerald Gardens to the west, the Carleton Lofts/Lyric and more recently, the C&E building - then add in rehabs and existing buildings owned by neighbors with history and a real affinity for our area - and you have a solid nucleus on which to, literally, build. More importantly, you have stakeholders who want to bring quality projects to enhance the current character and economy of the CEZ.

During the meeting, there were ideas floated for community building and branding projects, joint efforts to add landscaping and public art, and a willingness to talk further about more substantial strategies. Everyone in the room was challenged to think bigger and bolder. To take advantage of opportunities that exist and to create new ones by thinking outside of the box. It's less a call to "build it and they will come" and more an encouragement to seek those prospective tenants and partners who would be a good fit for a unique emerging community with a high upside. A livable neighborhood where industry, innovation and creativity work together to build a new template for urban success. That is an exciting prospect.


I just came from another meeting, this one with D12 Exec, Amy Sparks, and Kyle Mianulli, who is heading up the expanding communication arm of the CEZ. We now have a monthly email blast listing happenings in the area, a rolodex listing creative enterprises in the zone, and a central electronic gathering space for connection. Visit it and take a look. We will be putting out postcards soon that introduce the CEZ vision and direct interested parties to the website where they can join the creative rolodex and find out more about what's going on in the Zone. After that, we're looking into ways to incentivize membership and create CEZ merchandise, all with the goal of bringing people together to grow ownership of this community.

Give & Take at TU Dance
Attend the next Give & Take in the Creative Enterprise Zone on Wednesday, October 30 from 6:30-9:30 pm at TU Dance, 2121 University Ave, St. Paul. Engage in interactive presentations from the award-winning TU Dance, innovative Midwest Floating Islands, and the new Bang Brewery. Meet neighbors and enjoy!

Honor Roll Nominees
Send your suggestions for nominations for the Neighborhood Honor Roll. These are people who have made a difference in our community and we have plenty of those. Write a 50-word paragraph supporting your choice and email it to Amy. Winners will be invited to a luncheon honoring the winners from all communities in St. Paul.

Police Station Tour
Nov. 3-9 is International Police Station visitors Week. It's not on my calendar, but we have a lovely police station and if you haven't visited, you should. Contact Caitlin hokey at cgokey@vera.org to arrange a tour.


More Burglaries
Apparently, the season of taking is not over yet as several of our residents have had bikes snatched recently. I also heard of a neighbor who heard a loud knock on their door around midnight and looked outside to see a rather large set of shoulders moving down the sidewalk away from their house. And it wasn't homecoming. Weird. 

Rock Star Offers Free Tutoring
Tutors are available to work one-on-one with students after-school at Rock Star Supply Co. Rock Star Supply Co. is open Monday-Thursday from 3-6 PM. Students may drop by at any time during after-school hours to work with a trained tutor. To enroll your student for FREE homework help call 612.367.7827 or email Ariel@rockstarsupplyco.org or visit their headquarters at 2388 University Ave (University and Raymond)

Avalon Book Needs
Avalon School at 700 Glendale Street just off Raymond Ave, south of University is thankful for all the books received so far. They still need copies of "What is the What" by Jeremy Eggers and Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men." They also need graphing calculators. You can drop them off at the school if you can.

Chanson Singer/Songwritier Night
Chanson Voice and Music Academy is holding it's third annual Singer/songwriter night at 6:30pm on October 20. Get out your costumes and join them for tricks, treats and good music. Best costume wins a free voice lesson so you can improve your Halloween howl. Here's the RSVP link. http://www.chansonvoicestudios.com/singersongwriter-3rd-sunday-rsvp/


Paul Fate Joins Hall of Fame
Neighbor and Foundation board alum, Paul Fate, was honored by LISC (Local Community Support Corporation) last week when he was named to their Hall of Fame for his years of dedicated service. Paul is currently CEO of Common Bond, the Midwest's largest developer of affordable housing with onsite services. He is the former head of LISC and his award garnered widespread praise from the entire housing and development community. He is truly one of the good guys.

Monkey Island
I know I already talked about the Grand Re-opening of Monkey Island last week, but I just want to report that despite the inclement weather yesterday afternoon, the playground was officially opened with brief speeches and a ribbon-cutting. After which, the kids on hand did to the new equipment what kids there have done for many years on the old: they crawled over, under, through and all around it, got sand all over their hands and clothes and generally had a wonderful time. Thanks again to everyone involved and to volunteer extraordinaire, Deanna Seppanen, who led the effort. 

Met Council Fun
Neighbor, Jon Commers, made the front page of the Strib's Metro Section this morning. As a member of the Met Council's Transportation Committee, he was seen weighing in on the challenging SW Corridor situation at a public hearing. I do not envy Jon his role in all that, but I feel fortunate that someone of his abilities and temperament is playing a lead role. Lord knows he will need all of both, before the whole thing is over.

Soccer Star
In the same issue of the Strib, Como high school soccer player, and StAP resident, Will Kidd, was named as one of the athletes of the week. The junior mid-fielder was the #2 ranked team's leading scorer during the season and scored 3 goals and one assist in two play-off victories. As the Como team continues its run for the state championship, check out their schedule and see a really special team play their "beautiful" game.

That's all for now. Take care of yourself and be a good neighbor.