Locals welcome North St. Paul growth


On the minds of city brass and residents as North St. Paul grows is adequate parking, which is already sometimes tight. Lynnda Ziebol, who lives on Fourth Avenue East, said parking is especially confounding during the History Cruzer Car Show, when it’s sometimes hard to get a car down her road. (Solomon Gustavo photos/Review)

Construction has begun on 100 owner-occupied townhomes at the former Anchor Block site, a lot between Mcknight Road and Third Street, south of the Gateway Trail.

Adequate parking will be a priority

 

North St. Paul is growing — the city has the space and empty lots have been snapped up by developers for new housing. 

As the new builds begin in earnest, folks are largely welcoming of the new development, though parking in the city is already tight and will only get tighter as the people move in. 

Construction has begun on 100 owner-occupied townhomes at the former Anchor Block site, a lot between Mcknight Road and Third Street, south of the Gateway Trail. 

Surveyors visited the former City Hall site on Seventh Avenue East in mid-May, preparing to break ground on a three-story apartment complex with 87 market-rate units. Work on a 75-unit apartment building at the intersection of Margaret Street North and Sepela Boulevard, across the street of the current City Hall, will come shortly thereafter. 

There is general excitement amongst residents and business owners about the influx of potential customers, additional tax base and new neighbors in the community. 

“Good, we need it,” said Terrie Smith, who sells goods at Antiques at the Pharmacy on Seventh Avenue. “Any store owner wants more people down here.”

A man who lives near the Anchor Block site said he’s all for the additional tax base, noting that the lot was a bit of an eyesore and that he’d prefer “people who pay money to live here” rather than having an empty lot. So far, he said he’s had no trouble with construction noise, and does not anticipate the new neighbors causing problems. 

“If they pay to live here, they probably want a nice, quiet neighborhood, too.”

Lynnda Ziebol, who lives on Fourth Avenue East and can see the former City Hall site from her backyard, said she has mixed feelings about the planned development since it’s so close to her. She worries about extra traffic and potential disturbances. Overall, though, Ziebol said new buildings and younger residents are “good for the city.”

“I love the influx of people,” said Steve Minke, a bartender at Polar Lounge on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Margaret Street North. “More the merrier.”

However, the barman did have concerns over the accompanying influx of cars. “Where is everybody gonna park?” he asked. 

On a regular weekend night at the bar, said Minke, patrons instantly fill up the watering hole’s back parking lot. People then end up driving down Seventh Avenue East a couple blocks, or to the parking lot of the current City Hall to find a spot. 

Finding parking is even more difficult during the city’s Friday summer night History Cruzer Car Show, when participants and onlookers line Seventh Avenue and its surrounding streets, Minke said. 

“They better have a brilliant plan during the car show,” said Nick Granos, who lives at Midtown Apartments on Seventh, down the block from the former City Hall site apartment project. 

On Fourth Avenue, where Ziebol has lived since 1978, she said both sides of her street are parked up during the car show. She has room for four cars on her driveway, so finding a spot isn’t an issue. “It’s hard to drive a car through sometimes,” she said. 

When Ilse Perlich comes to North St. Paul from Oakdale to watch her grandchild at their Fourth Avenue home, she said she makes sure to park on the driveway during car show season. 

 

City feels parking pressure

“Parking is high on the list of concerns,” said City Manager Scott Duddeck.

The former City Hall site, for now, is partially a parking lot. Once that is gone, Dudeck noted, there will be even less parking. 

“We’re very conscious of this,” he said, noting the city doesn’t have a plan in place yet, but is actively considering the best options through studying cities with similar situations. 

An example of a busy main street-like stretch that North St. Paul officials like, Duddeck said, is Grand Avenue in St. Paul. It’s an energetic area with shops and different types of housing, with ample on-street parking, that still feels peaceful enough to walk.

Perhaps a designated lot, or parking signs prohibiting parking on certain streets at certain times, will be needed, he added. 

City staffers are considering “everything on the table,” Duddeck said, as downtown developments, and the expected changes that they’ll bring, become finalized.

 

–Solomon Gustavo can be reached at sgustavo@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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