I hope you all had a lovely holiday and enjoyed some extra time off or at least a more relaxed schedule. I don’t believe I mentioned our Foundation's annual open house on November 15 at the Park Midway Bank in my last Thanksgiving blog, but it was from all reports a fun event. (I say reports, as I was not able to attend due to a flu I woke up with the day of the event.Yech.) Our 2012 grantees had a chance to update the attendees on their current programming and future goals, the little wine shoppe helped to host a fundraiser for the music program at StAP Elementary which looks like it will bring in about $1,000 and neighbors had a nice opportunity to connect. Thanks to Rick Beeson and Terri Banaszewski of Park Bank for their usual generosity and support. Also thanks to the Colossal Café for the food and Phil Rukavina, lutist extraordinaire, for the lovely music. 

I attended the monthly Economic Development Committee meeting of the Midway Chamber and got several interesting updates. Herb Tousley, who is working with Exeter Realty on the C&E building across from Sharrett’s on University Ave. reported that he 104 unit, market rate rental space is looking at a Dec. 15 end of construction date followed by the first tenants moving in on Jan. 1. Sounds nice with a 3,000 sq ft rooftop patio, fitness room, business center, parking and main floor lounge where tenants can wait for the light rail to arrive. They already have 21 units leased and 15 reservations for their $1.50/sq ft spaces (around $1,000/mo for a 1 bedroom.)...a rep from Walsh Construction got a cheer when she reported that the major light rail construction on University Avenue would be finished this week on schedule. Wow. From now on, there should only be work on the existing line itself - electrical and rails - no more long lane blockages, only short term touch up stuff. I drove the length of it after the meeting and aside from some work behind the capitol that looks like it might take slightly longer, she looks to be telling it straight. So, there is really no reason not to visit the corridor's wonderful and eclectic collection of shops and restaurants. Check them out. Now comes the consideration of the connector streets like Snelling…speaking of which, we also got an update from Mndot on some improvement ideas that came from a study of Snelling Avenue from Selby to Como. They are looking at transforming it in much the same way as the few blocks around Macalester have been revamped. Medians, more greenspace, safer ped and bike lanes, etc. These aren’t even in the proposal stage yet, so portions of the plan (bridge work over Pierce-Butler) probably won’t be completed for 20 years, but the first steps could be taken relatively soon. They will preserve the street parking! Thanks to Betty McCollum for finding the funds to pay for the much-needed study of a major corridor that needs some serious updating. 

D12 -  The CEZ Task Force met recently to consider funding options and partnerships for the continuing development of the area. The want to keep having regular opportunities for neighbors to get-together and discover the community. The next one is this Thursday's Happy Hour from 5-7pm at the IFP building on University right next to the Jimmy Johns. Come for some refreshments, conversation and to meet new neighbors…a proposal for the realignment of Bayless St. including some revisions to Hampden Park will be presented to the Environment Committee at the SSA Rec center, Wed. Dec.  5 from 7-9pm…and its time to honor our top volunteers for city-wide recognition. Check out details on their website.

Schools – Some 4th graders from StAP Elementary got a chance to visit with the Mayor and ask him questions when he visited their classroom. Here’s a link to a short video. Those kids look like they would be good candidates for office in a few years. Give to the Max Day was a hit for the schools as well as other non-profits in the neighborhood. If you missed your chance to support your favorite local school, you can always send your donation to the Foundation and we’ll make sure it gets to the right place…Murray’s Barnes & Noble fundraiser is coming up on Dec. 6 from 6:30-9pm. It’s a fun time featuring performances from the Murray music groups at the Har-Mar location. A % of all sales will go to the school’s enrichment programs…Como debaters took home the first place trophy recently by defeating an Eagen team in a tournament hosted by Concordia College. 

Listserv – there are some great placemaking arts projects popping up along University Avenue lately, like Carrie Christenson's wayfinding bikes, Mosaics on Sharrett's outer wall, a chain link fence adorned with stained glass, or the fabulous big murals on the Classic Retro building. Check out the results of this neat partnership between the district councils and Irrigate artists.…our local branch library has its usual full schedule of interesting and fun events. Check them out here

This Saturday, Dec. 1 is Shop Home for the Holiday in St. Anthony Park. The bank will have the reindeer rides and Santa, the shops and restaurants along Como Ave. will have specials and the artisans will be in the lower level of Milton Square with their lovely handmade crafts. Strolling carolers, a book sale to benefit the elementary school library at Micawbers, a wine-tasting at the little wine shoppe and more. Check out the posters up at the shops and on the kiosk or visit our website for more info. Do not miss it! 

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