Downtown during evening rush hour

For as long as I can remember people have been concerned about the future and viability of downtown St. Paul.  In the last decade, we have seen a lot of investment in the area. The amount of housing has tripled in the last 15 years.

At the same time, there is a lot of vacant commercial space along the skyway and on the street. There is almost no retail and a glut of office and retail space. Our little downtown has been struggling for decades

My dad once owned a business on St. Peter street and even back then there were a lot of questions about the future of downtown.

Last Monday I walked downtown at 5:00 PM.  There has been little traffic because of the governors stay at home order. Even the library is closed and the parks are empty too.

Will downtown recover from COVID-19? Will the new restaurants near the ballpark survive? Is the housing downtown enough to keep the neighborhood vibrant?

Rush hour on Monday, May 11, 2020, 5:00 PM ish

St. Peter street
Saint Peter street looking South
6th and Washington downtown St. Paul
6th and Washington at Travelers Insurance
6th street downtown
6th street downtown


Happy Earth Day 2020

Today is Earth Day, which started in 1970 making this the 50th anniversary. It isn’t going to be like last year. Nothing is like last year but we can do something, which is better than doing nothing.

I plan on putting both panniers on my bike and riding through my favorite park with the goal of filling the bags with trash. That is something I can do today.  You can help by taking a walk or a bike ride and picking up trash in a local park or in the street, bring the kids along they can help.  We can do this together but separately, at least six feet apart.

pictures of trash
Earth day

Gardening in 2020

I’ll admit this year has been a challenge, which is why gardening seems more important than ever.  I started my garden in-doors as I often do. I am looking forward to planting this year. I have started about 36 plants so far. I collect disposable plastics and other packaging during the winter and use them for gardening in the spring.

The tray in the picture once held cupcakes, and there is a pineapple can full of coleus hanging by the kitchen sink and a cottage cheese container that I planted cucumbers in a couple of days ago.

There is something magical about starting from seeds and watching them grow. I’ll move them to a cold frame that I built out of old storm windows in a week or so.

I love homegrown vine-ripened tomatoes and look forward to them all winter.

Tomatoes and marigolds


Signs of spring

I can’t think of any time we have needed spring more than we need it now. The picture was taken on April 2, 2012. We had an early spring that year and I believe it is coming early this year. I can see tinges of green when I look across the flooded river.

The buds on the crabapple trees are huge. I predict they will open in the coming week.

I am going to go on a spring treasure hunt next week while staying at least 10 feet away from you and your family. I’ll see how many signs of spring I can find.

Harriet Island regional park
Harriet Island Regional Park


Facebook isn’t the best news source

Crocus blooming in my yard this week

This is day 2 of the Minnesota stay at home order also day 14 of the president’s Coronavirus guidelines. There are a lot of people who are frightened. There are people with little to do who spend their time on Facebook trying to save us all by posting important news and public service messages.

In one case I even saw someone from a state department of health comment on false information. Numerous news sources debunked information. The person posting it left it in place.

We all know people who get most of their news from Facebook but Facebook is not the best source of news. The Minnesota Department of Health has an excellent web site and the information we have is the best currently available. The Federal government also has a Covid-19 website. 

I like MPR radio (FM91.1) as a news source. The local papers, the New York Times and the Washington Post and the local news stations. I have been listening to or watching the Presidents almost daily press conferences too. Ask Alexa to play CSPAN or watch it at Usually scheduled for 4:00 PM our time but doesn’t actually start until 4:30 or 5:00 PM.

When you find news and want to know if it is true you can do a google search.  False information seems to spread faster than a virus on social media.

A person can drive themselves crazy watching the videos about how to sanitize everything. Most of us are going to get this virus and many of us already have it. In my household, we don’t even have a thermometer and none are available and there is little testing. We should each assume I have it and do our very best to stop the spread with frequent handwashing and social distancing.

Here is more information about the  Minnesota stay at home order which went into effect on March 27th and will remain in effect until April 10th. Restaurants and public spaces will remain closed until May.

Real estate services are considered essential and we are still working while following the guidelines for social distancing. In some states, real estate services are not considered essential.

Open houses are strongly discouraged and I home sellers do not have to allow showings. I do not recommend buying a house without seeing it first but have helped people do that. I have also sold houses for people without ever meeting them in person.

On Friday I showed a house to a client who made an offer on that house. Contracts are created and signed electronically no in-person contact is needed. Homebuyers can tour houses safely.

Stay well, stay at home and wash those hands.