Ramsey county 4R program

Reuse, Recycle and Renovate for Reinvestment Program – is what the Ramsey County 4R program is all about. I am very much in favor of saving old houses when possible and always in favor of keeping house parts and everything else out of landfills.

The program has been around since 2010 and is aimed at the tax forfeiture properties that the county becomes responsible for. Examples of the work that has already been done can be found on the Ramsey county web site.

Its mission is two-fold:

  1. Promote productive reuse of old building materials from deconstructed buildings in order to keep those materials out of landfills, thereby minimizing the effect on our natural resources and environment.
  2. Renovate dilapidated structures back to being appealing, taxable properties with an emphasis on using sustainable building practices and incorporating sustainable components in each renovation project.

The house in the picture has sat vacant for many years and is in the process of being renovated through the program. Eventually, it will be sold by public auction.  Revenue coming from the sale of tax-forfeited properties is used to replenish the fund for costs incurred and to use for future forfeited properties.

old house
735 Margaret Street – St. Paul, MN


Immigration – no going back

Immigration sculture
Sculpture in Hamm’s park

The sculpture is made up of suite cases, duffle bags, backpacks, and roller bags and is located in Hamm park on East 7th street a few blocks East of Maria street.  It is part of an art project around immigration. There are more details on the Indigenous Roots web site.

I know the East Side of St. Paul well it was where I grew up and went to school. At the time it was what people called a “working class” neighborhood and it was mostly white. The neighborhood is a lot more diverse these days partly because of immigration.

In my family, I am the third generation to be born in this country but the first generation came from Quebec, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.  I can understand and read some French but do not know any Polish and I know very little about Czechoslovakia.

I don’t think it would be very easy to go back to where I came from.  We are a country of immigrants, we invaded and took over from indigenous people, who also immigrated long, long ago.

If you haven’t seen the sculpture check it out. On the wall behind the suitcases, they have started putting up pictures of immigrants and some of their stories.

As advertised

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. My husband loves trains so we went downtown to see “Big Boy No. 4014 Visits St. Paul”.  Event coordinators took advantage of the huge space outside the Union Depot and put the train a distance from the depot but set it up so that to see the big steam locomotive we had to go through the depot and stand in line.

The event was well attended.

Here is the picture that was used to market “Big Boy No. 4014 Visits St. Paul”

Big Boy No. 4014 Visits St. Paul

Here is what it looked like from an attendees view:

Big Boy No. 4014 Visits St. Paul
Big Boy No. 4014 Visits St. Paul

Well played! lining it up so that the stop sign helped obstruct some of the view that wasn’t already blocked by people and barriers.

Big Boy No. 4014 Visits St. Paul



Downtown Condos more affordable

The downtown St. Paul condo market has always been unique. The neighborhood is different from any other in St. Paul and so is the housing stock. Many of the condos were built or created in the early 2000s. In the last decade, more rental housing has been created and most of it is luxury apartments.

Median prices in downtown St. Paul are lower than they are for the rest of the city. It wasn’t always that way. Per square foot prices are higher downtown.

Median home sale prices downtown vs the rest of the city


Older houses with older electrical systems

One of the wonderful things about old houses is they can be retrofitted. Even if a house was built without electricity or central heating it probably has both today and maybe Wifi too.

The answer is breakers. There are houses in St. Paul that still have old electrical boxes with fuses instead of breakers. Fuses seem to work fine but those boxes are at least 50 years old and some are much older. Having an ancient electrical system means having fewer circuits. Insurance companies do not like fuses and will charge more or they won’t provide insurance at all.

If the power is 100 amp and the fuse box does not have to be relocated prices for upgrading to breakers start at about $1500.00. It can cost twice as much if there is 60 AMP service or if the electrical box needs to be relocated.  It is easy enough to get an estimate from an electrician.

Any home can be sold as is but for homeowners who want to make improvements before they sell, I recommend upgrading the electrical system. It may actually save money.

We use our houses much differently today than we did in the 1950s. We use a lot more electricity. I have seen old fuse boxes with four or five circuits for the whole house. Newer electrical systems will include that many circuits just for the kitchen.

fuses and breakers
Electrical panels