Sprucing up downtown St. Paul

Parts of downtown St. Paul are getting a little sprucing up. Downtown St. Paul has been undergoing revitalization and sprucing up for the last several decades.

The efforts can be seen at the East and West ends of downtown. In the middle, there is a lot of pigeon poop on the sidewalks.

The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance is a new organization that represents downtown businesses, nonprofits, government entities, residents, and entrepreneurs to build a strong and vibrant downtown and create a positive downtown experience.

One very visible project to spruce up downtown St. Paul is the mosaic trash cans. I want to take pictures of all of them because they are really beautiful.  They were designed by Mosaic artist Daniela Bianchin.

Here is just one of the art pieces near Rice Park.


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


Enjoy the Saint Paul Farmer’s market

Don’t you just hate it when tables with vegetables on them are set up in huge parking lots and they call it a farmer’s market?  We have a wonderful farmer’s market here in St. Paul. and it isn’t in a parking lot but in the heart of Lowertown downtown surrounded by historic brick buildings.

I buy fresh vegetables, soap, honey, eggs, plants, flowers and usually a bagel to bring home. I recommend the kettle corn and the fresh donuts.

Famer’s market

Now and back then – 2009 and 2019

Yesterday I was looking at some numbers from a decade ago. May 28, 2009, to be exact:

Downtown St. Paul had a 9 month supply of condos on the market.  The average cumulative days on market for the 136 condos on the market was  206 days and the average list was $288,344.  

Ten years later there is a 3.2 month supply of condos on the market downtown. There are 27 units on the market and the average number of cumulative days on market is 95 days. The average list price is 386K. 

Some things have not changed. It still takes longer to sell a condo than it takes to sell other types of housing. There isn’t any other type of housing downtown. Condos in other parts of the city sell faster than downtown condos but take longer to sell than other types of housing.

The demand for inexpensive condos is high and the supply remains low.

Back in 2009, we were in a buyers market. In some parts of the country, it is a buyer’s market but here in the metro area, the seller’s market remains strong.

The overall housing supply in St. Paul is currently 2.3 months, which is the same as it was in May of 2018. In May of 2009, it was  12.4 months.

How many bedrooms does a loft have?

A Rossmor Loft – 500 North Robert street. Formerly a shoe factory

The loft is a common housing style in downtown St. Paul but they seem to confuse our MLS. Most lofts have no bedrooms. Most home buyers search for homes based partly on the number of beds and baths they have.

Lofts are flexible spaces and the bedroom is where ever you put the bed. If you put the bed by the window then the bedroom has an egress window.

The bedroom or bedrooms can be anywhere in the loft. Some people build platforms so that they have a kind of the second story for their bed and others build separate rooms and some buy dividers or storage units or curtains.

For some, the flexibility is too much. They reject the idea of living in a space that doesn’t have a defined sleeping space. It does take some imagination and creativity.

Artists lofts are lofts that are used as a space to live and work and usually have good lighting.

Many of the buildings in downtown St. Paul that have lofts in them were originally warehouses or factories. They have huge windows and exposed brick walls and high ceilings. Floors are sealed concrete. Often ductwork is exposed and some of the units have original hardware left over from when they were industrial buildings.

Decorating and living in a loft is about having less stuff and about using creative storage solutions. For example, a bookcase can serve as a room and a place for books. Hooks and shelves can take advantage of high ceilings and create verticle storage.

If you want to live in a loft consider the downtown St. Paul neighborhood. Prices range from just 100K to over a million.

The smallest neighborhood

Downtown St. Paul is small but the residential population has grown to about 8050 people. I like to think of it as the other neighborhood because it is so different. The housing is different too because most of it is condominiums.

In recent years more apartments have been added to the mix. In the last couple of years, more bars and restaurants have opened in the area. There are also fewer businesses downtown and a lot of vacant offices and retail space.

Here is a look at downtown condo prices over the last 5 years. Prices have gone up. No surprise.

downtown st. paul condo prices
downtown St. Paul condo prices

The data in the chart above comes from the NorthstarMLS which is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.