Posts Tagged ‘ Model Cities ’

Brewing Enterprise

Rondo Cafe rendering

Rondo Cafe rendering by Leetta Douglas

Rondo’s Coffee Café is the name of the new coffee shop that will be making its home in on the first floor of the Frogtown Square project at University and Dale in St. Paul.

The idea of having a coffee shop at this busy corner came from two women who grew up in the neighborhood and now work with Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation. Executive Director Nieeta Presley and Board Chair Leetta Douglas also share something else in common: They both love their coffee.

Both women are also highly passionate about their neighborhood and don’t want the history of Rondo to be forgotten. In that hope they are planning to develop the coffee shop as a history lesson for visitors and walk down memory lane for locals. With few coffee shops in the area, the vision of one that the locals can call their own, and a gathering place for the seniors taking up residence in Frogtown Square, seems to make sense.

Helping Presley and Douglas get the shop up and running is Golden Thyme’s owner, Mychael Wright. Golden Thyme is a coffee shop and neighborhood gathering place on Selby Avenue. Wright has the experience and connections they are looking for to get it off the ground. The women are also looking forward to creating a few more jobs in the neighborhood.

Frogtown Square is a mixed-use development, combining commercial and residential spaces for seniors. Greater Frogtown CDC, Model Cities, Neighborhood Development Center and Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation have partnered on the project. The work at this important intersection, including the adjacent Rondo Community Library, has been funded in part by Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has made a two-decade commitment to the neighborhood.
Fundraising has started for the inside décor for Rondo’s Coffee Café, with the dream of this being a place people come to either learn about Rondo or remember Rondo.

That’s where the organizers need your help. You can name a coffee, decorate a table with old photos, or have photos mounted on the 14-foot walls. The displays will tell the story of how Rondo used to be and bring back sweet memories to those who gather there over a cup of coffee and to reminisce.

“This will be a community coffee shop, and we are working to build community ownership of it,” Presley said.

To find out more about how to get involved with this project, check out Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation’s website, or call 651-222-0399, ext. 100.

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Homebuyer Education

Homebuyer education and counseling, known as the Home Stretch Program, is coordinated by the Minnesota Home Ownership Center and delivered by local, non-profit, community-based organizations. Home Stretch eight-hour workshops offer education about the home buying process and cover credit and budgeting; qualifying for a loan; special loan programs; shopping for a new home; home inspections; maintaining your home; and successful home ownership.

Classes sponsored by Model Cities, in partnership with Aurora/St. Anthony NDC, will be held at the Brownstone Building, 849 University Ave. in St. Paul from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the following Saturdays (participants attend two sessions):

May 15 and 22; June 5, 12, 19 and 26; July 10, 17, 24 and 31;  August 7, 14, 21 and 28; September 4, 11, 18 and 25; October 2, 9, 16 and 23; November 6 and 13; December 4 and 11.

For more information about Home Stretch classes, contact Brenda Bailey at Model Cities,  651-632-8350 or by email.

Frogtown Square Meet & Greet

Frogtown Square meet and greet

About 100 people showed up for the Frogtown Square meet and greet

Frogtown Square meet and greet 2

Frogtown Square meet and greet

On the corner of University Avenue and Dale Avenue is an empty lot where the old Saint Paul Police Western District Office used to stand. However, it will not be empty for much longer: A new mixed-use development, known as Frogtown Square, will be built there.

There was a ground breaking for the four-story project on November 23, 2009, at which Mayor Chris Coleman, City Councilman Melvin Carter and others spoke enthusiastically about the project. Greater Frogtown CDC, Model Cities, Neighborhood Development Center, and Aurora/Saint Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation have collaborated to see this mixed-use building come full circle. The ground floor of Frogtown Square will be for commercial use, approximately 10,000 square feet for shops and offices, all of which have been rented by small, minority-owned businesses in the area. The upper three floors will be affordable apartments for independent seniors.

On Feb. 22, developers held a meet-and-greet at the Central Corridor Resource Center to connect general contractors, Benson and Orth Associates/Meyer Contracting JV, with local subcontractors and residents from the neighborhood looking for construction jobs.

Nieeta Presley of ASANDC shared the hope behind the meet-and-greet between the general contractors and the subcontractors. “The development is designed to help the community grow through people working together to make things happen in their own neighborhood,” she said. “Plus, it gives an opportunity to low-income people, minorities, and women. It helps the area to become a better community by letting folks get to know each other and make a difference in their neighborhood.”

Because the project has received Section 3 funding from HUD, it is required, to the greatest extent possible, provide job training, employment and contract opportunities for low- or very-low income residents in connection with projects and activities in their neighborhoods, according to HUD.

Close to a hundred people showed up to the event and were able to meet the general contractors and get connected with those they have already subcontracted with.

Construction is set to begin in earnest later this month.

Community Roundtable

Organizer Roundtable

About 30 people attended the Organizer Roundtable on the Building Sustainable Communities project.

More than 30 attendees from 22 organizations gathered at the Model Cities Communities Room on University Avenue on February 24, 2010, to hear impassioned community leaders share their raw experiences — the triumphs and the difficulties — in realizing the true meaning of collaboration.

Collaboration, in this case, meant creating neighborhood-centric, multi-partner coalitions aligned with the Building Sustainable Communities initiative supported by Twin Cities LISC.

As part of a monthly roundtable series organized by the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, the event, titled “Community Partnerships for Success,” drew excellent attendance according to Joan Vanhala, coalition organizer with AMS.

“I appreciated the different leaders who talked honestly about their challenges in working with coalitions towards one common goal,” said Vanhala.

Those leaders included Mari Bongiovanni, executive director, East Side Neighborhood Development Company; Staci Horwitz, program director, City of Lakes Community Land Trust; Cathy Maes, executive director, ICA Food Shelf; Judy Elling, executive director of ResourceWest in Hopkins; and Nieeta Presley, executive director, Aurora/St. Anthony Community Development Corporation.

During the two-hour session, leaders outlined the formulation of their collaborative, conveying both excitement and frustration in the challenges and rewards of developing cross-sector partnerships.

“I can see that in the different presentations, we’re at different levels of maturity, and we all came out in completely different ways,” said Bongiovanni. “We [St Paul’s East Side] needed to sit at the table for quite a while.”

After four years, Bongiovanni admitted her collaborative is still working on finding a comprehensive voice, which has slightly fragmented recently due to resident churn in a tough economy. That said, she noted the effort put forth in a multi-year process that started with informational meetings and evolved into 64 organizations sitting at a table calling each other to ask for advice and referrals.

“That was a big step,” she said. “Before we were all in our little silos and hoping that we would get funded and others wouldn’t because that would be more money for us.”

The next Organizer Roundtable will be “Race, Power and Organizing,” which will address the dynamics of race in day-to-day life, and how to integrate racial equity in campaign focus.

Race, Power and Organizing

Noon – 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 31
Rondo Community Library
461 N. Dale St.
St. Paul, MN 55103

Building Sustainable Communities Roundtable

LISC logoJoin Model Cities, the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability, Aurora/St. Anthony NDC and other Frogtown Rondo Action Network partners at an Organizer Roundtable — Community Partnerships for Success: Building Sustainable Communities from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 24, at Model Cities Community Room, 839 University Avenue, Saint Paul. (Map/Directions or Transit Planner)

In 2007, the Twin Cities was chosen by the national Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to carry out a Building Sustainable Communities demonstration to promote more integrated and comprehensive approaches to community development. Twin Cities LISC is implementing the project with a focus on five areas: St. Paul’s East Side, the Central Corridor, Minneapolis’ north and south sides, and the suburban community of Hopkins. They chose these areas because each offers a multitude of potential partners, opportunities and issues.

Come hear from community leaders involved in the program about their efforts to direct resources toward community-based projects already under way that would otherwise be constrained by limited means and abilities. Join in the dialogue about how innovative partnerships like this can leverage resources for community projects.

Organizer Roundtables are free but registration is required. Light snacks will be provided. Feel free to bring your lunch.

Stops for Us Celebration

Stops for Us celebration

Nieeta Presley and Metric Giles of ASANDC celebrate with Stops for Us Coalition at Arnellia's

The community along the Central Corridor in St. Paul has been asking for extra train stops at key intersections since the light rail expansion was conceived. Just a few weeks ago, they got them. Community groups, neighborhood organizations, local elected officials and individuals have been working with federal, state and local officials to find funding and political support for the stops. A celebration was held at Arnellia’s on University Avenue on Feb. 8 to enjoy the sweet success of good old-fashioned community organizing.

With local businesses worried about revenue during construction, lawsuits being filed against the proposed light rail route and an inadequate amount of train stops, many community members have been hesitant to welcome the transit project. This victory was one felt deeply by those who worked hard to achieve it, and the party at Arnellia’s was well deserved.

The local pub was full of community members, leaders and organizational representatives. People from Isaiah, CSP, Jewish Community Action, Alliance for Metro Stability, ASANDC and more were there to cheer the funding of the new stops. City Councilmembers Russ Stark and Melvin Carter III were there as well. The party filled the back room of Arnelia’s with laughter and noise: specifically singing. A song written for the occasion was chanted by everyone, and was definitely the highpoint of the evening. “We’ve been hoping for this for a long time,” said Metric Giles, a board member of the Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation.

The Stops for Us Coalition: »Alliance for Metropolitan Stability »Asian Economic Dev. Association »ASANDC »Community Stabilization Project »District Councils Collaborative »Got Voice, Got Power! »Hmong Organizing Program, TakeActionMN »Housing Preservation Project »ISAIAH »Jewish Community Action »JUST Equity »Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy »Model Cities »MICAH »Preserve and Benefit Historic Rondo Committee »Saint Paul NAACP »Saint Paul Urban League »Transit for Livable Communities »UFCW Local 789 »University UNITED »University Ave. Business Association.

Celebrate our Victory on LRT stations

Nieeta Presley and Joan Vanhala of the Stops for Us! Coalition

Nieeta Presley and Joan Vanhala of the Stops for Us! Coalition

Please join us for a Stops for Us Victory Celebration and Potluck at 1080 University Avenue, St. Paul, MN on Friday, February 5th at 4pm.

Bring your favorite victory food and beverages to share as we celebrate the inclusion of the three stations at Western, Hamline, and Victoria into the Central Corridor LRT project.

Also feel free to bring your favorite music and a story to share.

Not to be missed! See you there!

In case you missed the news reports, here are details from Joan Vanhala, Coalition Organizer, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability:

The 3 stations at Western, Victoria, and Hamline will be included in the Central Corridor LRT project budget and be built by the completion of the Central Corridor LRT line!!

At a historic press conference at Model Cities with Mayor Chris Coleman, Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Congressman Jim Oberstar, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Congressman Keith Ellison, City Councilmember Melvin Carter, Commissioner Toni Carter, and Commissioner Jim McDonough it was announced that all three stations at Western, Victoria and Hamline will be included and built by the completion of the Central Corridor LRT line.

With the changes at the federal level, the federal government will now match the city of St. Paul’s commitment of $5.2 million, which will pay for two stations. The third station’s funding was pieced together with local funds from the Counties Transit Improvement Board, Ramsey County and the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative and will be matched by federal funds.

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood was quoted as telling the Stops for Us organizers, “You’ve made a difference and we will use you as an example across the country…that if you hang together, have a great project that’s for the people, and work with your delegation, you can make things happen.”

Congratulations to the to the East University Avenue community members, the Stops for Us coalition and supporting partner organizations, and elected officials who worked hard together to make this happen!!

To quote Councilmember Carter’s press release:

This is a HUGE victory, but our work to ensure that this project will serve those of us who chose this community long before light rail, is far from done. I’m glad to know our federal partners understand the importance of this project and its impact on our community, and I look forward to our continued work together to:

  • Mitigate the loss of on-street parking;
  • Help small businesses survive construction; and
  • Ensure that we will build our future here by supporting our diverse set of residents and businesses, not by allowing them to be displaced.