St. Paul’s Union Depot: Keep it Local

According to consulting firm HR&A Advisors Inc., St. Paul should encourage local businesses to set up shop in St. Paul’s Union Depot.

I like the way they think. People coming into St. Paul from the suburbs or other states via rail are not looking for an experience they can have at home.

I also think it’s pretty awesome that someone got paid to say that we should strive to have local businesses in St. Paul’s Union Depot.

If HR&A Advisors Inc. is looking for a new project, maybe they could take a shot at transforming Block E in Minneapolis? That project has long suffered from hosting venues that won’t keep people downtown. Kieran’s Irish Pub being the first positive thing to happen on that block in years.

2 thoughts on “St. Paul’s Union Depot: Keep it Local”

  1. As a resident of the Union Depot Lofts for the past two years, I too am excited to see what the future will bring for the building. The county has communicated a lot of their plans for the building with residents, and I know that the finished product will be quite impressive. The thing that concerns me, however, is what type of business will set up shop in the depot.

    Recent articles seem to suggest that the depot will be (yet another) center for lowertown art and culture; I do appreciate art but I would argue that people passing through the depot will be more interested in practical retail stores such as a coffee shop, deli, bar, small grocery store, maybe even a salon or clothing shop. These are the type of establishments that you find in rail stations in other cities/countries. If these are all local businesses it would be ideal, but if not that’s fine – they would still offer necessary products/services and provide jobs. I would caution decision-makers not to let the depot become just another lowertown art installation when it should be a thriving retail center.

  2. Hi agree with the last remark. Having art and culture is part of the allure of Lowertown but planners need to be careful not to over do it. The Depot needs to have businesses that will be frequently visited by passers through (e.g. a coffee shop- Caribou or Starbucks that will get good business by not only rail users but Lowertown and Skyway users as well; a convenient shop with magazines and snacks; a Patina or some kind of knick knack shop, some kind of sandwich shop or a Noodles and Company, Cheeky Monkey? etc.). I completely get the love of local businesses and I’m all for them but I’d also like to see some national chains with proven stability if not in the Depot then somewhere in the Lowertown area. There’s lots of art and culture for people to explore all over Lowertown, let’s be smart with the Depot and make sure what businesses go in are stable enough to make this project a success.

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