Is Frogtown going to gentrify?


How much transformation will the Central Corridor Light Rail create in the neighborhoods that it runs through? Will current residents benefit from more jobs and improved housing? Will rents rise, forcing lower-income residents out and making room for bargain-seekers and higher-income residents attracted by improved transit? Or will high poverty rates and housing stay pretty much as they are in neighborhoods like Frogtown?

This is one of a series of four stories, looking at the issues of subsidies, affordable housing, and segregation.

Eagan vs. Frogtown: Should housing subsidies increase integration in suburbs or improve housing in low-income neighborhoods?
Nelima Sitati: Make sure people of color are at the decision making table in housing discussions
Is Frogtown going to gentrify?
Changing face of Brooklyn Park

Frogtown lies north of University Avenue, between Lexington Avenue and I35E. Income levels are lower than city averages, and Frogtown residents include a large percentage of immigrants. The 2010 Census showed a population that was 34 percent Asian, 30 percent black, 21 percent white, and 10 percent Hispanic. Renters make up 61 percent of all households. (For more demographic information, check out the Wilder Compass neighborhood profile. )

University of Minnesota Law Professor Myron Orfield thinks that there’s no danger of Frogtown gentrifying any time soon, though he believes signs point to gentrification happening at the other end of the Central Corridor, in areas near the University of Minnesota, but. He opposes focusing public spending on subsidized housing in Frogtown and other Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty (RCAPs). Instead, he advocates spreading such development into more affluent neighborhoods and encouraging people from RCAPs, such as Frogtown, to move to more stable communities, leading to more integration.

Caty Royce, the executive director of the Frogtown Neighborhood Association, disagrees. She sees gentrification happening as a result of the Central Corridor line. “What I’m seeing are increased rents,” she said, “with lots being gobbled up by investors. Rents are up 25 percent, and there are forces at work that are making it increasingly more expensive to live along the line.”

The Frogtown Neighborhood Association’s focus, Royce said, is on community-led planning. They’ve partnered with the Twin Cities Land Bank to purchase lots, with the community deciding the best uses for these, such as urban gardening, play areas, basketball courts, etc.

Eric Kwok, a manager at University Buffet, loves living in Frogtown. “This area has a bad reputation,” he said. “But it’s great.” Kwok said he doesn’t see Frogtown gentrifying any time soon.

CORRECTION: And an apology – somehow, I missed filling in the boundaries of Frogtown, which, as Patricia Ohmans notes in her comment, are variable. The most recent City of St. Paul official map shows the eastern boundary as 35E, which is farther to the east than I have seen before.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.