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Will light rail force artists, small businesses out of St. Paul's West Midway?

An article in the November 30 StarTribune takes a wide-ranging look at the possible impact of the Central Corridor Light Rail line on Saint Paul's West Midway, near the border of the two cities. This "amalgam of arts, industries,housing, services and transportation" could see major economic shifts as the line is completed and property values ramp up, writes Chris Havens,

Among the questions he asks: "Will artists be forced to move because of rising property values? Will new city land-use rules stifle business expansion? Will there still be room for manufacturing jobs? Will the neighborhood lose its character?...The area has some of St. Paul's most valuable land, thousands of jobs, hundreds of artists, small businesses and nonprofits, and accessibility to many major thoroughfares."

Havens talks to people with these concerns, as well as to organizations working to ensure that the area maintains its character and continues to offer opportunities for a diverse mix of residents.

"One group is looking at the area as a 'Creative Enterprise Zone' to figure out how the arts community can remain and thrive. Another group, the West Midway Task Force, is looking at business and jobs. The city is considering changes to its zoning code to encourage more mixed-use, high-density development along the light-rail line."

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