| Follow Us: Facebook Twitter Youtube RSS Feed

Central Corridor : Development News

68 Central Corridor Articles | Page: | Show All

Transforming a vacant storefront along the Central Corridor

In a unique partnership with the Starling Project, the St. Anthony Park Community Council (SAPCC) is temporarily reimagining a vacant storefront space on University Avenue in St. Paul.

The Starling Project facilitates such “meanwhile uses” of empty spaces along the avenue’s portion of the Central Corridor light rail transit line, according to project materials.

Even though the bulk of the construction here has wrapped up, shoppers are still avoiding the area, according to Amy Sparks, who heads SAPCC.

To take advantage of the space, SAPCC and Starling are on the lookout for entrepreneurs, artists, and other creative types to fill the place.

Tenants will fill the 1,200-square-foot pop-up shop for anywhere from one to four weeks.

Renters should engage the public in some way, such as through a one-time event, open studio hours, or an interesting window display, according to a prepared statement about the project.

So far, the space has a few takers, including Irrigate Arts, which is leading the charge on numerous artist-led placemaking projects along the light rail line. Irrigate will have an exhibit in the space that documents these efforts.

Sky View, which is an aerial photo workshop and gallery, will also have a presence there.

Last month, an art show called Art du Nord occupied the former frame shop.  

Ultimately, the neighborhood group sees the rotating uses as a way to bring life to the avenue, according to Sparks. “We want to see University Avenue thrive and help keep businesses going.”     

It’s also a creative way to find a permanent tenant for the space.

More broadly, the project calls attention to the neighborhood’s Creative Enterprise Zone, which is an in-progress arts district-like designation. It's all about strengthening the local creative community, she explains.

Sparks hopes these types of events will “build up awareness of the area, so people start to recognize it as a creative area and want to locate here and do business here.”

As such, the group is trying “to get the right developments in,” and keep office space affordable. “It makes the Creative Enterprise Zone more real and tangible,” she says.

Source: Amy Sparks, executive director, SAPCC
Writer: Anna Pratt

A sophisticated system to green up the Central Corridor

Running parallel to the construction of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line is a $5 million project to improve the quality of stormwater runoff along University Avenue in St. Paul.

It includes funding from Clean Water, the Capitol Region Watershed District, the city of St. Paul, Ramsey County, and the Metropolitan Council, according to project materials. 

The existing drainage system “conveys untreated stormwater runoff from paved surfaces to the Mississippi River, which is impaired for turbidity, nutrients and bacteria,” project materials state.

To change that, the project will use something called an “integrated tree trench system,” stormwater planters, rain gardens, and “infiltration trenches,” according to project materials.

Will Nissen, who writes for Hindsight on the Minnesota 2020 blog, explains in an online post that the state-of-the-art tree trenches will use “pervious pavers and structural soils to help trees grow and survive in extreme urban conditions.”

Additionally, “Strategically installed stormwater planters and rain gardens will help capture and filter contaminated water runoff that currently goes untreated into the Mississippi River,” he says.

The tree trench idea came out of various community meetings and a workshop, according to Mark Doneux, a representative of the Capitol Region Watershed District, which handles the aspects of the project that have to do with stormwater regulations.

In conjunction with the project, trees that have been lost in construction will be replaced, and 1,000 new trees will be added, too, which adds a challenging element. "Some of the commercial areas have a lot of pavement," says Doneaux, and it's tougher to maintain them. Often, urban trees only live for seven to eight years. "The city wants to find better practices for planting healthier urban trees." 

The challenge is that along the related portion of University Avenue in St. Paul, there’s “quite the web of utilities,” and the sidewalks need to be able to accommodate emergency vehicles, he says. To create a healthy rooting medium for trees, including pathways for air and water, the group went for a system that doesn’t use irrigation. “It was a bold step to say ‘let’s make this work,’” he says.  

The idea is to create a system that can serve as a template for other parts of the city and watershed. “This is a new practice. This isn’t tried and true,” Doneux says.   

In the future, he hopes that there might be some signage to describe the project. “No one knows there’s a pretty sophisticated effort [here] to have healthy urban trees and treat stormwater,” he says.  

Source: Mark Doneux, Capitol Region Watershed District  
Writer: Anna Pratt

Walkability survey to help make areas surrounding light rail stations more pedestrian-friendly

St. Paul’s District Councils Collaborative (DCC) is kicking off a “walkability survey” for the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit stations on May 6.

It involves group walks from various neighborhood spots to coming light rail stations in St. Paul and Minneapolis. The walks will take about 20 minutes or so; combined with the survey, it's less than an hour-long commitment, according to DCC staffer Anne White.

The walks will also have a cultural component; urban activist Charles Landry, who is an advocate for walking, will be taking part in the event on Sunday, she says.

Landry will also have a number of speaking engagements around town on the theme of "Creating 21st Century Intercultural and Creative Cities," as a part of a week-long residency with the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative through May 11. (For a full schedule of events, go here.)

Walkability surveys can be turned in any time until May 28 at the DCC website, which also has a map for making notations. The DCC is hoping to collect 1,500 surveys, or 100 for each of the 15 stops.

The survey will look at “both the physical environment and at how people feel, which isn’t strictly physical. Do they feel safe and comfortable walking?”

For that reason, the feedback will be valuable on many different levels. “It highlights the importance of a good walking environment,” she says, adding, “We’re also getting people looking forward,” in terms of getting used to the idea of taking the train.

Additionally, the walks will help identify areas in need of repair or in bad condition, as well as zones that aren't pedestrian-friendly, she says. “We’ll be helping identify priorities. Where are the greatest needs? Where should they put limited funding to work?”

Part of the survey will also include ensuring accessibility along the way for people with disabilities.  

Hopefully, related streetscape improvements can be made before the light rail is up and running because “It has potential to boost light rail ridership,” White says.

Source: Anne White, District Councils Collaborative
Writer: Anna Pratt

Little Mekong brand helps draw people to the Central Corridor

In recognition of the unique Asian businesses and other cultural institutions along University Avenue in St. Paul from Galtier to Mackubin streets, the area is being branded as Little Mekong.

It’s an initiative that the local Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA) launched on Feb. 25.

The name references the Mekong River, which is a major river in Southeast Asia, according to Va-Megn Thoj, who heads the AEDA. “Most businesses in the area have a connection to the river,” he explains.

In his view, “By giving a name to a destination which has existed for a long time, we can draw more people into the area.” This is especially needed during Central Corridor light rail construction, he says.  

Already, as a result of construction obstacles, many of the businesses are seeing less foot traffic, he says.

With the Little Mekong branding, “We want to build on what we have,” which he describes as “an attractive destination for people to get introduced to Asian cultures and cuisine.” Although the district has been around informally for a long time, not too many people are familiar with it, he says.

Besides improving the streetscape and putting up district-related signage, Little Mekong will host a number of events, including family-friendly festivals.

AEDA is also working with businesses to create incentive programs to bring in more customers, including coupons and other deals, and to handle increased traffic. “We’re working with businesses to strengthen their operations and customer service,” he says.

The coming Central Corridor represents “a tremendous opportunity to create something of benefit to the neighborhoods and city and region," he adds.

Source: Va-Megn Thoj
Writer: Anna Pratt

Irrigate Arts trains 200 artists to do public art along Central Corridor

This past winter, over 200 artists trained to do collaborative public art projects as a part of Irrigate.

It's a creative placemaking initiative for the coming Central Corridor light rail transit line. 
The workshops have seen more than double the level of participation that was anticipated for their first year by Springboard for the Arts, which is administering the initiative, according to Laura Zabel, who leads the organization.
“It’s a demonstration of the demand and interest in artists engaging the community,” she says, adding that emerging and established artists from a wide variety of disciplines have gotten involved.
Once artists go through the training, they can apply for grant money to do collaborative projects along the Central Corridor. Already, a number of mural projects have come out of the project, along with a concert series and more. “We’re really starting to feel the momentum,” she says.
For example, Leonardo’s Basement in Minneapolis is working with the Avalon School in St. Paul to create something it’s calling “sculptural mobile units,” which will travel to various events. 
A new business at Frogtown Square in St. Paul, which isn’t ready to go public yet, worked with Irrigate to organize a workshop called, “Make it Mysterious.” Artists designed temporary murals for the space. It led to “really cool visual pieces that animate that corner,” and the business is building on it, says Zabel. 
The various art events draw people to the corridor, which is especially important as construction is ramping up again, she says.
Irrigate is open to suggestions; on its website, it has a map where people can identify spots where art is needed. “I’ve seen people saying, here’s this ugly wall or huge dead tree, or available green space,” she says. “People know that artists think of all those things as opportunities.”
Source: Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts
Writer: Anna Pratt

Starling Project strives to fill vacant storefronts along Central Corridor

The Starling Project is a sort of matchmaking service for University Avenue landlords and potential temporary renters.

It’s about filling vacant storefronts in the short term, many of which have been left empty as a result of the recession or other hardships connected to Central Corridor light-rail construction, according to Kristen Murray, who is a group leader.

In December, an eight-person team of graduate students from a neighborhood revitalization course at the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs launched the project as a creative way to help businesses that are struggling amid construction.

Murray says that the vacancies can be taken advantage of for “temporary or meanwhile uses, to bring extra energy into the corridor.”  

To do so, the group is hosting a series of informal open house events at various storefront spaces, which run through May.

The Starling Project is targeting areas where there’s a cluster of storefronts.
The group’s goal is “to figure out how this model can work longer-term for the Central Corridor and others in transition, where there are vacancies.”

Recently, a group of art students and their instructor from the university rented 2401 University for a temporary gallery, while other matches are in the works.  

“There’s a lot of visioning happening along the Central Corridor,” she says, adding that the group is trying to help neighborhood organizations “think about how vacant spaces can be used to express some of those visions for the future.”

“The temporary uses and events can really bolster business,” she says, adding, “We’re trying to [help] small locally-owned businesses survive and thrive.”  

Although other cities have worked on initiatives to enliven vacant storefronts, “There haven’t been any programs looking at how pop-up efforts can be a strategy to use during a disruptive period,” such as construction, says Murray.

Source: Kristen Murray, Starling Project
Writer: Anna Pratt

$45 million Currie Park Lofts to bring affordable housing units to Cedar-Riverside

The $45 million Currie Park Lofts will turn around a vacant, blighted property in Minneapolis’s Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

It’ll also bring much-needed affordable housing to the area, according to developer Bianca Fine, who leads Fine Associates.

The six-story development will have 260 mixed-income apartments between floors two through six--with room to accommodate large families--while a cultural center, adult and child daycare, and a neighborhood grocer will share the first-floor retail space.

Right now, besides some limited parking, there’s a single-family home on the site that has an interesting history as a brewpub, and which the company is looking into the possibility of moving, she says.

One of the biggest advantages of the project's location is its proximity to the light rail transit lines, bus stops, and bicycle amenities. It’s also within walking distance of several large institutions, including the University of Minnesota, and downtown’s business district.

As such, “It’s a true transit-oriented development,” which helps fulfill city and neighborhood goals for the area.

Visually, Currie Park Lofts will blend into the neighborhood with a brick, glass and metal exterior, along with a pedestrian-scale design and landscaping. “Many different colors and finishes and textures will make it look like several different small buildings,” Fine explains.

Further, the design incorporates a number of balconies, which means “a lot of eyes on the street," and there'll also be green spaces and recreational areas.

Fine Associates has been working on the project since 2005, and that has “given us a lot of time to figure out how to do it best,” Fine says. “The more we got to know the neighborhood, the more we got to understand its needs,” and respond to them, which, she adds is key for its long-term success.  

In the next 20 years, projections show the need for housing in the neighborhood is likely to increase dramatically, according to Fine. “The neighborhood needs an engine of economic improvement,” she says, adding that the project will be “strongly integrated.”

Construction of the lofts could begin as early as this fall.

Source: Bianca Fine, Fine Associates
Writer: Anna Pratt

$9.5 million Central Exchange project planned for Frogtown neighborhood

Central Exchange, a mixed-use development that's planned for St. Paul's Frogtown neighborhood, will help turn around a site that has long been rundown.

Historically, the neighborhood as a whole has been under-invested in when compared with other parts of the city, according to Craig Johnson, who is the project manager for developer Model Cities.

Model Cities, which is based just a block-and-a-half away from the University Avenue site, wants to be a part of its improvement, he emphasizes.

For the project, the organization has acquired four vacant commercial properties that he describes as an “eyesore on the avenue.” It has often attracted vandalism, he says.  

Johnson says that the development will provide a boost to the area. “It’ll help make the area more attractive,” as opposed to somewhere that one would merely drive through.

Two of the buildings on the properties have been torn down, while the city will soon demolish the remaining couple of structures, he says.

Model Cities may also acquire another adjacent property, for which it’s trying to secure financing.

Central Exchange will have ground-floor commercial space along with a couple of stories of housing.

Altogether, there’ll be 30 to 45 units of mixed-income housing. Depending on its final footprint, the project could cost anywhere from $9.5 million to $13 million, according to Johnson.

The commercial spaces will be “oriented towards nonprofits, educational institutions or small businesses,” with an eye on what’s “useful to the community,” he says.

Model Cities is planning to install green roofs that will allow for urban gardening and stormwater management, as well.

The complex will alternately rise up one and three stories in different areas, to help break it up, visually. “If we built this as one big building it might have a more imposing feeling,” he says.

The coming Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line helped make the development possible. As such, “We see this project as a part of something bigger that’s going to really help the community.”

Construction at the site is scheduled to finish up in the spring of 2014.

Source: Craig Johnson, project manager, Model Cities
Writer: Anna Pratt

Getting creative: in 2011 developments demonstrated new ways to reach people

This year, a lot of local development projects got creative.

They innovated in community engagement, replacing the typical “request for proposals” with contests. Social media tools helped to keep the conversation going beyond the traditional town hall meeting. Artists and art-making were brought into the development process in fresh ways. And technology contributed to community-building via smartphones and QR codes.

For example, early in the year, the Mississippi Riverfront Design Competition attracted 55 proposals from around the globe.

In re-imagining a portion of the riverfront in Minneapolis, the idea was to emphasize parks as an “engine for sustainable recreational, cultural, and economic development along the riverfront,” according to project materials.

Today, the effort has evolved into the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MRDI).

On Dec. 15, MRDI held a well-attended public meeting at the Mill City Museum to discuss the possibilities for a nearby ‘Water Works’ park along the river. In the past it was the site of the city’s first water supply and fire-fighting pumping stations.

Partners in Preservation

Partners in Preservation (PIP) from American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation had a contest to award $1 million to 13 local preservation projects. The public got to help determine where the money went by voting on Facebook for their favorite projects.

Chris Morris from the National Trust for Historic Preservation said that the contest raised the profile of a number of local preservation projects. He celebrated “the impact it can have on sites that are meaningful to people in their neighborhoods.” Additionally, through creative open-house events, people “tried to involve the community and do good work.”

The Weisman Art Museum held a contest that for the redesign of the bike and pedestrian plaza outside its door, hosting public meetings with interdisciplinary design teams and exhibiting preliminary sketches and models.

Similarly, Architecture Minnesota magazine, which the American Institute of Architects Minnesota publishes, is undergoing its second annual round of Videotect, a video competition that asks participants to contemplate the built environment. The theme this time is sustainable transportation and its enhancement through design. It’ll wrap up with a screening of the videos, giving the audience a chance to weigh in.


Also on the transportation theme, Irrigate is a three-year place-making initiative that aims to connect artists to community development that will accompany the coming Central Corridor light rail transit line.  Springboard for the Arts, TC LISC and the city of St. Paul received $750,000 from the national funding group ArtPlace, to set it in motion.  

Laura Zabel, who heads Springboard, said, “We really see the Central Corridor and construction as an opportunity to engage artists in a really deep way."
Similarly, technology tools are helping to create a sense of community. Some recently released smartphone tours feature audio segments about local landmarks, like Ranger on Call, which touches on various aspects of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area.

Others, such as Saint Paul: Code Green put people on a kind of scavenger hunt in which they scan strategically placed QR codes to learn more or advance in the “game.”

Experience Southwest’s "shop local" marketing campaign in Southwest Minneapolis also takes advantage of QR codes to direct community members to area retailers.  
Going forward, I expect to see more experimentation of this kind in other areas--look for it in connection with locally trending topics like bicycling, solar power and urban farming.

Anna Pratt, Development Editor

Hampden Park Coop makes plans to remodel its vintage building

Through a master planning process that it recently wrapped up, the Hampden Park Coop in St. Paul has identified short- and long-term remodeling priorities for the vintage building that it owns.

Coop member Paul Ormseth, an architect who is leading the process, says that several years ago the store expanded into a corner space in the building “with an eye to doing some planning about how to manage it into the future.”

Right now, the coop rents out part of the second-floor space to Oak Floor Dance Association, and there’s potential for more tenants.

“With a large space upstairs, the building can serve the community,” perhaps by accommodating public gatherings or various educational uses.

It’s something that any remodeling project should strengthen, Ormseth says.

Additionally, the building is well positioned to take advantage of traffic from the coming Central Corridor light rail transit line and right-of-way improvements planned for Raymond Avenue, he says.

In general “We want to do near-term remodeling that makes sense in a longer vision for the building,” and which will probably happen in a couple of phases.

For starters, the store needs more office and storage space.

The checkout stand could also be revamped, while the coop is also hoping to make the building more energy-efficient.  

For example, “We’re looking at bringing more daylight into the store to improve the feel of the store and reduce the need for lighting,” he says.  

Enhancing accessibility is another goal.

Whatever changes get made will be sensitive to the building's historic character. 

It goes to show, adds Ormseth, that “An old building is valuable because it can be adapted and it strengthens the community by retaining some existing historic fabric.”

At this early stage, the budget for the remodeling projects is still debatable. “The coop has been an asset for the neighborhood for a long time,” he says. “In buying the building, the coop made a commitment to improving the store, as well as keeping the existing building intact.”

Source: Paul Ormseth, Hampden Park Coop member
Writer: Anna Pratt

Following $14 million expansion, a 'new' Weisman opens its doors

After a $14 million project that nearly doubled its gallery space, a renewed Weisman Art Museum on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus has opened its doors.

Erin Lauderman, a spokesperson for the Frank Gehry-designed museum, says the Weisman added another 8,100 square feet, which it did without “any more ground to build on.”

In a Finance and Commerce story, Brett Dunlap, a project manager with JE Dunn of Kansas City, Mo., the project's general contractor, says that it "required the galleries to be built atop and cantilevered over huge concrete columns."

A fifth gallery space, which has been dubbed the Target Studio for Creative Collaboration, “had to push the walking bridge out,” according to Lauderman.

There’s also a new canopy and bridge skirt. More of the signature metal of the façade was used on one side of the building, while another part of the exterior is mainly brick. “It completed the building inside and out,” she says. “Now you walk in a loop inside.”  

Another challenge was to fit the work in with the plans for the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line, which will span the Washington Avenue Bridge. “It’s a limiting site but it’s a fantastic location,” Lauderman says.

All in all, the museum has the same feel as it did before, although the recently installed skylights create an openness that literally sheds new light on the works. “That makes every space look different,” she says.  

The Weisman now has more room to showcase its 20,000-piece permanent collection, which includes ceramics, American art, and works on paper. The fifth gallery area is geared to interdisciplinary collaboration.

“Now [the museum] is a better resource,” she says. “You can come back and see the same piece multiple times.”

Admission to the museum is still free and, says Lauderman, “it doesn’t take long to get through. We have a nice, thoughtful collection." 

Source: Erin Lauderman, Weisman Art Museum
Writer: Anna Pratt

Historic building on University Avenue in St. Paul to be converted into $20 million apartments

Ironton Asset Fund LLC has a $20 million plan to turn the historic Chittenden & Eastman Building on University Avenue in St. Paul into a 104-unit apartment complex called C&E Lofts.

It’ll be one of the first developments to spring up along the coming Central Corridor light rail line.

But the building that Ironton acquired in October 2010 had recently been nearing foreclosure, with several defaulted mortgage loans, according to company information.

Because its financial and physical condition, the project was a good fit for Ironton, which is a distressed-asset fund, says Tom Nelson, a project manager and a principal with Ironton.

Besides the transit-oriented opportunity, “My associates have done projects in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, but our roots are in St. Paul,” he says. “We like to add value to a terrific neighborhood on the St. Paul side.”

Since the 1917 building is a “supporting structure” in the University-Raymond Commercial Historic District, the project qualifies for state and federal historic tax credits.

Originally the seven-story building was a furniture showroom and loft building, according to Ironton information.

The renovation will retain the building's historic qualities, including high ceilings, big windows, heavy timber construction, and flexible, open floor plans, he says.

Also,the building had long been a hub for artists, something he hopes to continue.  
A leasing and business office will fill the retail spaces along University Avenue, along with a tenant lounge that will have a fireplace and coffee bar. A fitness center, community and media rooms, a rooftop deck, and parking are other features of the project.

Construction is likely to begin after Labor Day, and the apartments could open next fall, Nelson says.    

Source: Tom Nelson, Ironton Asset Fund
Writer: Anna Pratt

Big Picture Project aims to focus affordable housing possibilities for Central Corridor

Last month, the Big Picture Project kicked off with a public meeting at the Profile Event Center in Minneapolis, themed around equitable transit-oriented development in Seattle.

It'll help inform future affordable housing projects along the planned 11-mile Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line that is to connect downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The Big Picture Project is an effort to come up with a comprehensive affordable housing strategy for this key stretch.

Ryan Curren, a special projects coordinator for the city of Seattle's Office of Housing, who spoke at the meeting last month, says of the project, "It's smart to set affordable housing targets along the corridor and stations years ahead of when the line is running.".

"It gives something to aim for and a way to orient policy proposals toward those goals, with inclusionary goals or new sources of funding or existing sources of funding," he says.

To meet those goals, Seattle has found that "It takes more targeted public subsidy and a tool or policy that requires market-rate developers to create some level of affordable housing in their development," on-site or off-site.

TC LISC, a local branch of a national organization that helps leverage resources for community development, is leading the Big Picture Project in partnership with the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, with the support of the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, according to TC LISC program officer Kristina Homstad.  

As it is, over 30 plans envisioning future affordable housing developments near the line have been put together, but there's no "coordinated plan that brings synergy to this wide range of effort," the project's website reads.

The idea is to "move beyond projects to placemaking."

A "big picture" strategy can help attract investment to the area, stabilize existing housing stock, preserve affordable rentals, and ensure that any new developments are in the best interests of community members, the website explains.

To carry out the project, a team that includes government, finance, community, and development representatives is studying the various affordable housing plans, maps, national case studies, and more.

Based on their findings, the group will come up with some recommendations and policies, which the public will be able to weigh in on in a series of community forums and neighborhood meetings that are underway through September.

In November a final plan will go before various project partners, including the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Hennepin and Ramsey counties, the Metropolitan Council, and Minnesota Housing, according to Big Picture Project information.

Ultimately, the group hopes that the plan will lead to "better coordinated housing that helps create a sense of place along the Central Corridor and improves residents' lives," the website states. 

Source: Kristina Homstad, program officer, TC LISC, Ryan Curren, city of Seattle
Writer: Anna Pratt

The Lyric at Carleton Place awarded for sustainable design

Sustainability was a priority for the Johnson Brothers Liquor Company, developers of The Lyric at Carleton Place apartments, which opened a year ago on University and Hampden avenues in St. Paul.

Recently, the Lyric received an award from the city recognizing its strides in this area. The 2011 sustainability awards went to a dozen businesses, organizations, and individuals on the cutting edge of everything from green construction to cleanup and beautification, according to city information. 

To add to that, this week the apartment building will host an event called "Hats Off to the Corridor," featuring art, music, and food to celebrate the Central Corridor light rail transit line that is planned to connect Minneapolis and St. Paul.

The 171-unit apartment building, which has a black-box-style theater, exercise room, community area, and gallery, is connected to the Carleton Place Artist Lofts. It's the first new construction project to be completed along the Central Corridor. The Lyric has also been designated part of the city's Energy Innovation Corridor, which spotlights sustainable developments along the light-rail line.

Beth Pfeifer, a spokesperson from The Cornerstone Group, one of the project's collaborators, says that in keeping with previous Johnson Brothers projects, "It's important to them to develop something that stands the test of time." 

Collaborating with the Cornerstone Group, BKV Group, Yen Chee Design, Jaeger Construction, Xcel Energy, and the Weidt Group, the Johnson Brothers found numerous ways to reduce noise and waste, improve air quality and energy efficiency, and filter stormwater, according to project materials.

To do so, it took full advantage of advanced heating and cooling systems plus Energy Star-certified appliances, native plants, and a rooftop garden, among other things.   

As a result, the building is 22 percent more energy efficient than similar developments. Pfeifer says the cost of achieving this level of energy efficiency was minimal, overall, and it'll pay for itself within a couple of years. "We hope it's an impetus for others to invest in [energy efficiency] as well."

Source: Beth Pfeifer, The Cornerstone Group
Writer: Anna Pratt

$2.5 million solar thermal array up and running at Saint Paul RiverCentre

A massive $2.5 million solar thermal array on the Saint Paul RiverCentre's rooftop is a striking sight, even from blocks away.

The nearly 1,000 kW system, which spreads across more than half a football field-sized area--the largest installation of its kind in the Midwest--was unveiled on March 18, according to Anne Hunt, who works in Mayor Chris Coleman's office.

It's a product of a partnership between the center, city and District Energy, which supplies energy to 80 percent of downtown buildings, she says.

The federal "Solar America Communities" program provided $1 million for the display, and District Energy, which led the initiative, matched it, according to a prepared statement.

The array, which helps form a renewable energy district in St. Paul, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 900,000 pounds annually, according to project information.

The way it works is "District Energy's high-performing collectors generate hot water to be used for space heating and domestic hot water in the Saint Paul RiverCentre," while the surplus will get funneled throughout the network, a prepared statement reads.

The installation will work in conjunction with a 183 MW District Energy system that gets energy from a biomass-fueled combined heat and power plant, it states.     

Jim Ibister, who serves as the RiverCentre's general manager and vice president of facility administration for the Minnesota Wild, says, "It's a good symbol of our commitment to sustainability," which he emphasizes is something that clients and patrons are seeking.

"We knew it would be a benefit to the city and as a model across the country, with market transferability," he says. "It's in line with our goal to reduce our carbon footprint."  

The project is one of 10 solar projects that will run along the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line, thanks in part to the $1.5 million the city received in federal stimulus funds from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who attended the unveiling, says in a prepared statement, "By pioneering the use of solar technology for thermal energy purposes, District Energy St. Paul provides a more efficient model that keeps more of our energy dollars in the local economy while relying on renewable resources."  

Source: Jim Ibister, vice president of facility administration for the Minnesota Wild and general manager of Saint Paul RiverCentre, Anne Hunt, St. Paul Mayor's office 
Writer: Anna Pratt

68 Central Corridor Articles | Page: | Show All
Signup for Email Alerts