| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Macalester - Groveland : Development News

9 Macalester - Groveland Articles | Page:

Heirloom brings "hipster farmhouse" feel and food to Merriam Park

When Wyatt Evans decided to leave his long-time position as executive chef at WA Frost and Company to open his own restaurant, scouting out neighborhoods was key. “First and foremost,” he says, “I wanted to have a neighborhood restaurant, a gathering space for the neighborhood.”
Next, he wanted to offer an ambience “that’s refined, but that shouldn’t read as stuffy. I wanted to create an environment like Grandma’s house without looking like Grandma’s house. Cool, but not too cool. Welcoming and comfortable.”
Of course, the food and the ethics behind it were essential to the new culinary endeavor. The cuisine, Evans explains, would be “inspired by the farmhouse, with elements of frugality and the total utilization of product. That’s the ethic I’ve been doing with food. In my new space, I wanted to amplify that idea and take it on in a way where we honor the past in the present by looking toward the future.”
Heirloom, located at the intersection of Marshall and Cretin avenues in St. Paul, is the result. Last July, Wyatt began renovating the former bakery and photography studio into his ideal restaurant. Studio M Architects in Minneapolis did the design and architectural work. According to Greta Johnson, a designer at Studio M, “the words he gave us were hipster farmhouse.”
“He came to us wanting to express a simple, old-fashioned feel,” she adds. “Heirloom vegetables, old seed packets and Audubon prints were our inspiration.” Friends of Evans’ provided graphic design, artwork and tables for the 2200-square-foot restaurant. Objects with a “Depression-era simplicity” added to the décor, Johnson says: “Things from the past resembling family heirlooms, that might have had meaning to a family at the turn of the century.” Adds Evans: “Mismatched antique chairs portray the humble aspect of how we’re trying to approach the business.”
Local and seasonal are a given at Heirloom, Evans says. “At this stage of the game, if you’re not using the fantastic local products we have, you’re not a player. We’re not trying to beat anyone over the head with local and seasonal; It’s just what it is. This is just how I cook. The menu changes based on availability. So the food and atmosphere reflect that.”

As for Heirloom’s location in the Merriam Park neighborhood, “Dozens of factors play into why you pull the trigger on one space versus another,” Evans says. “The deeper I dug into the neighborhood and got to know it, the desire to have a restaurant here like this began to unfold. In my opinion, this neighborhood has a strong demand for this kind of restaurant. The neighborhood people we met with expressed a desire for it.”
Heirloom’s location between Minneapolis and St. Paul, three blocks from the Mississippi River and near St. Thomas University, were pluses. Moreover, Evans adds, “There’s a really nice mix of people in this neighborhood in terms of age groups, and a good foodie contingent here in Merriam Park. Our goal is to be affordable and approachable, create top-notch quality food for less, and in doing so create a new place for neighbors to gather and eat.”

Twin Cities architecture firms receive AIA Honor Awards

What do an airy and daylit community library, a renewed college studio-arts building, a sustainably designed and modern apartment structure, and a renovated historic performing-arts center have in common? All of these Twin Cities projects were recently selected for a 2014 Honor Award during the 80th annual AIA Minnesota Annual Convention and Exhibition.
A panel of jurors from outside the state selected eight projects for Honor Awards from 73 submissions. Four of the awards were for projects in the Twin Cities: Hennepin County Walker Library designed by VJAA, Minneapolis; Brunsfield North Loop Apartments designed by Snow Kreilich Architects, Minneapolis; the renovation of Northrop, a historic performing-arts and innovation center on the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis campus by HGA Architects and Engineers, Minneapolis; and, also by HGA, Phase II of the Janet Wallace Fine Arts Center, the Studio Art renovation and expansion, at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Each of those Twin Cities architecture firms also won for additional projects located outside of Minneapolis-St. Paul. HGA was awarded for the Marlboro Music Cottages at the Marlboro Music School and Festival in Vermont. VJAA won for its Welland International Flatwater Centre, Toronto 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto; and Snow Kreilich received accolades for a home on Lake Minnetonka. In addition, Leo A Daly, Minneapolis, received an Honor Award for the design of The Toro Company’s headquarters in Bloomington.
The AIA Honor Awards have five categories: architecture, interiors, restoration and renovation, urban design and master planning, and small projects. This year's awards were selected by a panel of jurors from outside the state: Angela Brooks, FAIA, Principal, Brooks + Scarpa, Los Angeles; Mary-Jean Eastman, FAIA, Principal & Executive Director, Perkins Eastman, New York; and Dan Rockhill, J.L. Constant Distinguished Professor of Architecture, University of Kansas, and Executive Director, Studio 804.
According to an AIA Minnesota press release, the jurors’ selection of this year's Honor Awards offers “a real snapshot of the meaning of architecture today.” The awards will be presented to recipients on Friday, December 5, at the 2014 Awards Celebration at International Market Square in Minneapolis. The celebration will also showcase AIA Minnesota’s 2014 Gold Medal recipient Julie Snow, FAIA, Snow Kreilich Architects.

St. Paul Bicycle Plan widens its scope

The City of St. Paul recently revealed the latest draft of the comprehensive St. Paul Bicycle Plan, which proposes adding more than 200 miles of bikeways to the city. Incorporating public input on a previous draft of the plan, the latest manifestation takes a wider look at bicycling in the city. The plan now addresses bicycle parking, traffic signals, bicycle counting programs and other topics.
“This is a very significant effort,” says Reuben Collins, transportation planner and engineer, St. Paul Department of Public Works. “This is the first time the city has had a stand-alone vision for bicycling across all the city departments and the first time that we’ve really looked at the neighborhood level to ask what are the bicycle connections.”
St. Paul residents voiced feedback on the plan at a series of open house events and through Open St. Paul, as well as in personal emails and letters. Much of the community input called for addressing questions around wayfinding, trail lighting and zoning codes that would require bike parking in new developments, and encourage the incorporation of locker rooms and shower facilities to better accommodate bike commuters. The plan was revised to include much of that community feedback, according to Collins.
In development since 2011, the plan’s major aim is to complete the Grand Round trail system originally envisioned in the late-1880s as a figure-eight loop encircling both Minneapolis and St. Paul. The plan would also add a 1.7-mile loop in downtown St. Paul, which has been a notable void in the city’s bicycling infrastructure.
There is currently a recognizable disparity in the geographical layout of bikeways throughout the city, as well. While bicycling facilities are relatively abundant in the western half of the city, historically, there has not been equal investment in bicycling infrastructure on the East Side of St. Paul, according to Collins.
“I think there are a lot of reasons for that (disparity), but it’s something we are very aware of and looking to change,” he says. “We are looking to address that and reach some sort of geographical equity throughout the city.”
While city-specific numbers are hard to come by—something the plan seeks to address with bike counting protocol and programs—regional studies show a steady incline in the number of people riding bikes throughout the Twin Cities.
Bicycling rates increased 78 percent in the metro area from 2007 to 2013, according to a report from Bike Walk Twin Cities, a program of Transit for Livable Communities.
While Minneapolis is consistently ranked amongst the top bicycling cities in the country, St. Paul has struggled to keep up with its bike-friendly sibling to the West. “Certainly we can say anecdotally we know there are a lot more people riding bicycles [in St. Paul],” Collins says.
The St. Paul Bicycle Plan looks to solidify that growth in ridership by cementing an official citywide vision for bicycling. Planners hope to have the plan incorporated into the St. Paul Comprehensive Plan; one of the plan’s goals is St. Paul becoming a world-class bicycling city.
Sources of funding for the long-range plan will be “many and various,” Collins says. One significant potential source is the 8-80 Vitality Fund proposed by Mayor Chris Coleman. In his budget address this summer, Coleman earmarked $17.5 million to rebuild “key portions of our streets,” including completing Phase One of the downtown bike loop as laid out in the Bicycle Plan. He dedicated another $13.2 million towards completion of the Grand Rounds.
“It will be a very sizable investment to really get the ball rolling to implement the recommendations in the plan,” Collins said of the Mayor’s funding priorities with the 8-80 Vitality Fund.
The plan will next go before the Saint Paul Planning Commission October 17 where another public hearing will likely be set. After that, it goes back to the transportation committee, back to the Planning Commission, then on to the City Council for a final vote and hopefully adoption. Collins says the earliest he expects the plan to be put up for a vote is February of 2015.

C4ward opens doors to cultural districts along Green Line

The Green Line light-rail line opens doors to a number of emerging cultural districts along University Avenue in the Central Corridor. Throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall, C4ward: Arts and Culture Along the Green Line is inviting Twin Cities’ residents to explore six of these districts through a series of free arts-centered events occurring every other Saturday. The next event is Saturday August 9 in the Rondo and Victoria neighborhoods off the Victoria Station.

The series of events kicked off July 26 in the Little Mekong District during one of the five Southeast Asian Night Markets planned this summer. Other districts on the C4ward docket, in addition to Rondo/Frogtown, are Little Africa, Creative Enterprise Zone, Prospect Park and West Bank.

For years, University Avenue existed mainly as a thoroughfare—a place to be traveled through on the way to someplace else. The array of new cultural districts popping up is evidence that that area’s identity is already changing, says Kathy Mouacheupao, Cultural Corridor coordinator with the Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which is organizing C4ward in partnership with leaders from each of the cultural districts.

“When you’re driving down University, people usually have their destination planned already—you really miss a lot of the richness, a lot of the cultural identities, the really cool things that are happening along the corridor,” she says.

Whether it’s the abundant entrepreneurs, artists and unique shopping in the Creative Enterprise Zone near the Raymond Ave. Station, or the string of African-owned businesses a short jaunt off the Snelling Ave. stop, C4ward is looking to draw new visitors to burgeoning points of cultural and artistic vibrancy that might have been previously overlooked.

“We’re trying to groove new patterns,” Mouacheupao says. “One of the nice things about the Green Line light rail is that people are starting to notice things they didn’t notice before when they were driving.”

The rich arts and creative communities that quietly thrive along the Central Corridor will be on full display at the C4ward events. From do-it-yourself letterpress printing to illuminated mask making, Mouacheupao says the artists involved are dedicated to engaging and building community. “We all live and breathe art,” she says. Art is one way in which “we communicate with each other.”


Lula vintage store gets a new look

In honor of its 20th anniversary, Lula vintage shop in St. Paul recently underwent a dramatic transformation.

It all started with a project to upgrade the store’s electrical system and snowballed from there, according to store owner Hayley Bush. She wound up pursuing a larger remodel of the space. On Feb. 15, she closed the store temporarily for construction. Although the store has since reopened, she’s still putting the finishing touches on the place.  

In the past, merchandise hung from the walls and across the windows, which meant a lot of heavy lifting every day. The arrangement was physically demanding for her, plus, “I needed to make it easier for people to shop,” she says.

Overall, she wanted to streamline the store’s setup, so that it’s easier to spot items and move through the space. “It’s complicated having a vintage store, where the items go by decade or size,” she says.
As for those who aren’t familiar with vintage clothing or confident about what works for them, “I want them to feel at ease right away,” she says.

The new design is clean and ultramodern, in neutral tones. Besides new carpet and lighting fixtures and a fresh paint job, “I’m having everything be clear and minimalist, so items can be showcased better,” she says.

To improve the store’s flow, she's displaying fewer items. This means “I’ll be able to restock it more frequently,” she says, adding, “There’s only so much you can look at at a time.”

Additionally, she wants the store to appeal to both men and women. “I have a lot of men’s clothing and it’s a market I have just as much interest in as women’s wear,” she says. Taking that into account, she realized the dressing rooms had to be bigger and the racks could be taller, she says.

Soon, she plans to mount a big metal sign and photos from fashion shoots. and to add an additional accessory wall, she says.  

In April, she’ll be offering expanded hours as well.

“I do have cool stuff and I want people to appreciate it,” she says, adding that the remodel has “already made a huge difference. Sales are good.”

Source: Hayley Bush, Lula
Writer: Anna Pratt

FROG to build on its recycling efforts this year

FROG  (For Recycling on Grand) recently hashed out a plan for continuing its mission this year: to boost recycling and cut down on waste along Grand Avenue in St. Paul.  

A pilot program that originated in 2009, FROG brings together representatives from the Grand Avenue Business Association, Summit Hill Association, Macalester Groveland Community Council, the city of St. Paul, and Ramsey County, according to Jenna Bowman, a member of the group who works for the Business Association.

Last year, FROG placed 13 blue recycling containers along Grand Avenue to make it easy for passersby to recycle. “We monitored that and used that information,” for planning next steps, she says.

The group has also worked to connect area businesses with Minnesota Waste Wise, an environmentally minded St. Paul nonprofit organization; it's a connection FROG hopes to build on. “We’ve seen a lot of success stories with that,” she says.

One way that FROG will continue these efforts is by focusing on recycling at Grand Old Day, the annual summertime festival on Grand Avenue.   

More broadly, the group is also working on putting together some sort of recognition program to showcase what local businesses are doing recycling-wise, she says. This could involve visuals, like decals on storefront windows, which tell those stories.

For example, maybe a business has found a way to save on packaging or cut down on how many plastic bottles are out there, she says. To take the efforts a step further, “We may have an awards program that acknowledges businesses that go above and beyond, who are leaders in the industry in what they recycle,” she says.  

Additionally, the group will continue to work with partners that provide valuable insight and feedback on its initiatives. It helps that “The city and the county are working to increase their green efforts,” she says.

Source: Jenna Bowman, staffer, Grand Avenue Business Association
Writer: Anna Pratt

Common Good Books to move to Macalester College following $1.2 million renovation of the space

Prominent radio show personality Garrison Keillor is relocating his bookstore, Common Good Books, from Western Avenue North in St. Paul to a larger storefront space at nearby Macalester College.

To make way for the bookstore, this month Macalester began a $1.2 million renovation project at the 1923 Lampert Building, which will take about four months, according to Macalester’s newspaper, The Mac Weekly.

The bookstore will fill the first floor, while the college will sell textbooks on the second floor, according to David O’Neill, marketing director for the bookstore.

Previously, the building housed the Macalester Summit-Hill Seniors Living at Home Program, the Minnesota Institute for Talented Youth, and living space for retired faculty, The Mac Weekly reports.

At the existing space, “We’ve had a wonderful patronage; people come into the store and know the staff by name, and it’s a great neighborhood,” O'Neill says.

That being said, “We were landlocked as far as space. We needed a larger space.”

The bookstore will nearly double its space with 3,000 square feet. “It’ll allow us to have more titles and books,” with more shelf space.
Although the design is still coming together, the new bookstore will have a similar feel to the current space, with author quotes appearing here and there, and many of the current bookshelves making the move.  

“We’ll look at the floor plan and figure out how to lay it out, with places to read and hang out,” says O'Neill.

In contrast to Common Good's current basement-level location, the new place will have more natural light. The windows will also give passersby the opportunity to get a taste for what’s inside. “We encourage people to come in and spend some time there,” he says.     

Additionally, the bookstore will be able to host literary events in partnership with the school, which has lacked a trade bookstore since Ruminator Books closed in 2004, according to a prepared statement.
Keillor adds in the prepared statement, “It’s a good neighborhood, and with all those college students around, there’s a sense of high spirits in the air, and you need to inhale that if you’re in the book business.”
Source: David O’Neill, marketing director, Common Good Books
Writer: Anna Pratt

Local innovation "The Thing" follows 70 real-estate markets

Sometimes an innovation is so welcome that it doesn't need branding.

When medieval Icelanders needed a name for their big invention, the world's first parliament, they settled on simply calling it the All-Thing.

This summer the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (MAAR) faced the dilemma of naming its invention, an online, interactive database of local real-estate activity.

The MAAR staff took the Icelandic route. They called it The Thing.

Click on thething.mplsrealtor.com and you become the master of your own real estate data. Choose a Twin Cities neighborhood, a date range and a metric such as Days on Market, and colored lines appear, stretching across a chart to tell the story you want.

The Thing grew out of a desire to do better at communicating data, says Jeff Allen, who directs research at MAAR: "We were frustrated at our own inability to explain to our Realtors what was happening in the market in a way that was digestible and understandable to them."

MAAR "stumbled onto a business model" while trying to solve that problem, Allen says. Now its data-gathering arm, 10K Research, follows 70 markets for local realtors' associations. Some prefer a members-only approach to Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data, which is included in The Thing's database, but Allen says that in the Twin Cities the attitude is that "information should be transparent."

So far Allen says the "vast majority" of The Thing's users are real estate professionals seeking market information for their customers, says Allen. But the website is open to all and may eventually draw more lay users. "It's still in its infancy," he says.

Source: Jeff Allen, Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors
Writer: Chris Steller

Jefferson bike boulevard to have river at both ends

The web of dedicated paths for biking and walking in St. Paul will soon add an important strand. The city is getting ready to build its first proper bicycle boulevard, on Jefferson Avenue across the southwestern part of the city.

As it passes through St. Paul, the river twists northward, then south again. Due to that geographical quirk, the straight-line, east-west Jefferson Bikeway will meet (or nearly meet) the Mississippi River at both ends: at Mississippi River Boulevard and again at W. Seventh Street/Shepard Road.

Anyone biking the nearly four-mile length of the route will experience three different levels of accommodation: bike lanes from W. Seventh Street to Lexington Parkway; shared lanes (or "sharrows") from Lexington to Snelling Avenue; and bike-boulevard modifications from Snelling to Mississippi River Boulevard.

It's that last stretch where bicyclists will really feel like kings of the road, with a variety of traffic tricks intended to give preference to people pushing pedals. At Cleveland Avenue, a new island will divert cars and give refuge to bikers.

"The city's transportation plan calls for bike facilities every half-mile to mile," explains traffic engineer Paul St. Martin. Jefferson is typical of the kind of street St. Paul is adding to its biking network: located in a current gap in the system, with low traffic volumes, and already stocked with traffic signals. St. Martin said the city will test a similar route on Charles Avenue, another east-west street, which runs just north of University Avenue.

Source: Paul St. Martin, City of St. Paul
Writer: Chris Steller
9 Macalester - Groveland Articles | Page:
Signup for Email Alerts