E-DEMOCRACY | St. Paul community discussion July 31 about single family new construction in Frogtown


Ian Plitnick: 
GFCDC would like to invite you to a meeting we are hosting on Tuesday July 31st, 2012 from 6pm-7pm to discuss the opportunity for GFCDC to build on five vacant lots at 905 Charles, 594 Edmund, 695 Lafond, 540 Sherburne, and 512 Van Buren. We are holding this meeting in response to community member’s preference that GFCDC build on any or all of the five city owned vacant lots. If you any questions, please contact GFCDC at 651-789-7400.

Meeting: July 31st, 2012 from 6pm-7pm

533 Dale Street North – GFCDC Conference Room

Genevieve Marault:
Why is anyone considering building anything on empty lots in Frogtown when we have so many vacant homes here already? Shouldn’t we be focusing efforts on making existing homes livable and inhabited? Aren’t we all a bit weary from construction noise and the associated inconvenience already?

John Slade:
Genevieve – these are a few thoughts from one non-profit developer that has done both new construction and rehab (and does home repair and improvement) in the neighborhood. 

First, the Federal government supplied cities and states with a ton of money to deal with the foreclosure problem through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (aka NSP, not the power company ). The NSP money mostly says that if you buy the land it has to be used for housing, or some kind of housing-related use. 

Second, a lot of vacant lots is, I’m given to understand, seen an indicator of a ‘blighted’ neighborhood. Now, I fully agree that boarded up houses with blue and red posters on them does the same thing! But getting stuff from ‘nothing’ to ‘something’ is seen as a positive. 

Third, from what I understand from our builders, new construction is way more constant than rehabilitation. Sometimes rehabs can be easy; sometimes you can pop open a wall or open a suspended ceiling or strip a floor and find a can of worms or twenty. (Sorry, that’s a kind of icky analogy.) A few years ago Habitat did a rehab across from a new build; the new build started after and finished before the rehab. 

Fourth, we also have a home repair/home improvement program called A Brush With Kindness that does help keep existing homes livable and inhabited. Folks need to be under 50% of Area Median Income (that’s $42,000 a year for a family of four) and homeowners to qualify. 

All that being said, if I lived here instead of just worked here, I’d be pretty tired of construction as well, although a single family house construction is a wee bit less dramatic than what I can see out of my window here at Western and University. But if the light rail serves to increase investment, which they say it will, I think we’ll be seeing a lot of construction for a while.

View entire discussion thread here.

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