Home Depot in Midway area of St. Paul?

A loyal Deets reader sent over this story about Home Depot’s proposal to build in the Midway area of St. Paul along Pascal at I-94. Home Depot has previously proposed building at Lexington and University but the city asked for too many concessions from HD, so they pulled out of the deal. I think the city made the right call on the previous deal since Lex & University is a relatively high pedestrian area, making a hardware warehouse a poor fit.

This time, the location is along the frontage road to I-94 at Pascal, pictured below (link to Google Map here).

Home Depot Proposed Location

The corner in play is on the North side of St. Anthony Ave (frontage road) and to the West of Pascal St.

This time, however, Home Depot has proposed a transit-oriented design that might win over some of those earlier opponents.

Rather than create a surface parking lot, Home Depot has proposed building a parking ramp and putting scores of parking spaces on the store roof, said Corinne Tilley, a St. Paul zoning official.

The roof parking could help defuse criticism from proponents of the Central Corridor light-rail line proposed nearby.

“If they’re trying to do things that are transit-friendly, then I’m all for it,” said City Council Member Debbie Montgomery, who learned of Home Depot’s site plan Wednesday morning.

That sounds like a smart design change. Put that together with the less pedestrian intensive location along the freeway and things start looking pretty good. Another nice thing is drivers will be able to get on and off the freeway without clogging up traffic (or causing pedestrian conflicts) along University Ave.

The area in question became even more vacant in recent years when Metro Transit removed and demolished their service garage at the corner of St. Anthony and Snelling.

This quote didn’t connect with me at all:

But [Brian] McMahon said a home improvement store doesn’t fit with the sort of transit-oriented development the city has sought for the area. “You’re not going to carry plywood and two-by-fours on a light-rail line or a bus,” he said.

I’ve owned a home for going on three years now, shop at Home Depot on a regular basis (usually the Quarry location because they have hot dogs), and have NEVER carried a piece of plywood or a two-by-four. But I do buy plenty of spray paint, light fixtures, cabinet knobs, house plant, and seeds, which can very easily be carried on a bus or LRT. In fact, Home Depot has a store in Manhattan, where you can be sure nobody is pulling up in SUVs so they can stock up on 2×4’s. Home Depot simply changes their product mix to meet the demands of the local market.

It’s a good fit. Get it done.

Street Lights and Neighborhood Status

Bob Spaulding breaks down the “it” status of St Paul neighborhoods based on streetlight over at e-democracy:

Streetlight Symbolism in the Saintly City

“Take a walk down that high-priestess of our City’s commercial corridors – Grand Avenue – and you’ll notice the dominance of the double lantern lighting. So dominant, in fact, that those double lanterns are the symbol of Grand Avenue (see www.grandave.com), and until recently, the Macalester-Groveland Community Council.

What do the lights say to me? That Grand Avenue is “it” of course, the quintessential St. Paul, and has long-since arrived. Surely it wasn’t always this way, but to some, the streetlights seems to hold some sort of mythic power that draws people near. Or pedestrians near. Or something.

And so, other hopeful commercial corridors are apparently trying to woo the bountiful goodness of Grand Avenue with their own streetlights. Selby tried to woo Grand-hoppers a few blocks down Dale to Selby with some new lighting a few years back. And just a few blocks down Selby at Western, the streetlights seem so thick that it could act as a landing strip – and over the years it surely didn’t hurt. The Marshall and Ford bridges are also packed with lights, and an even larger pile of lights adorn each end of the bridge. With a sense of optimism, Phalen Corridor planted lantern lights very few feet, and there’s success there too.”

By the end of next summer, E Lake St will be an “it” street with new streetlights being installed as part of the street’s reconstruction. Look out, Grand Ave. There’s a newly streetlight-lifted street in town.

Is the Smoking Ban Hurting Charities?

Interesting discussion on the St. Paul Issues List at E-Democracy regarding the smoking ban and its effect on pull tab sales:

E-Democracy.Org: default

The smoking ban has improved the health of those who patronize and work in bars but I still hear a terrible gasping coming from these establishments.

It’s the sound of charitable gambling organizations on life support. The city has offered to help bars add patios to offset the smoking ban; what are they offering nonprofits that rent space in these bars?

To me, this raises the larger question: Should charities be pull-tab dependent?
Assuming the smoking ban IS the cause of the drop off in pull-tab sales, shouldn’t charities simply find a different way to seek out the un-spent money? Perhaps something that would put a larger percentage of the pull-tab expenditures to work for charitable causes?

Copper Thefts from Vacant Buildings

Saw this on the St. Paul E-Democracy forum:

E-Democracy.Org: default

“In recent weeks, there have been a rash of break-ins into vacant buildings where the gas lines are stolen for the copper. In several cases the gas was turned on resulting in huge and very serious gas leaks. It wasn’t until neighbors began to smell the gas that the fire department was called. These significant gas leaks can easily be ignited into a devastating explosion that can not only destroy the vacant house, but also damage neighboring property as well.”

Help me understand this one. I realize copper is valuable, but how much money are we talking about here? Should I quit my day job to become a Minneapolis copper miner, money?

Why does one choose to steal copper over aluminum? Aluminum seems easier to access. I mean, people leave it out in their alleys for you.

“chase a little white ball in the course of a very sissified game”

Interesting history of the Town & Country Golf Club in St. Paul, Minnesota. The author has a great sense of humor.

Town And Country Club – Club History

1893: “Golf did not burst into its full glory for several years, not more than a dozen played that first summer nor more than two or three dozen the second and they did not brag about it for more robust sports like rowing on the river, tennis, horseback riding, fishing and shooting, which we could then do almost in the suburbs of St. Paul, were then the vogue and it took some mental courage for a real heman to chase a little white ball in the course of a very sissified game. But we the beginners teased one man after another to try it out and one lesson was all that was needed to make a convert even then, as now.”

and:

Frank Cutcheon who was no athlete and of poor physique but became a first rate golfer teaching us incidentally that trained muscles were not necessary for golf.