The demise of the office?

CoCo St. Paul
CoCo St. Paul

I have been using a home office for most of my work since about 2006 or so. It wasn’t much of an adjustment when we were all told to stay home. Selling real estate and running a real estate company are businesses that are suited for home offices. Yet many real estate companies are struggling with what they call “new norma”. Their business models rely on agents wanting to come to the office.

A couple of days ago I talked to a neighbor who has been working out of a home office for years. She was recently laid off and has already gotten hired by another company. She is working from home and she doesn’t want to work in an office.

Working in an office never worked well for me. I struggled with some of the things that came along with the office culture and have never had a desire to go back. I have talked to several people who do not want to work out of shared office space.

At the end of the month, the co-working space I have been using for meetings, as a business mailing address and for those times when people wanted to see my office is closing for good. I didn’t use it much but I will miss it, and have been a member since 2009. The Fueled Collective, formerly CoCo will be closing the downtown St. Paul location for good at the end of June. All other locations will remain open.

During the pandemic, the office has been closed most of the time. When it re-opened because of essential businesses like mine the people who used the space did not come back. This isn’t a good time for small businesses including mine.

I haven’t made a decision yet about my business address or if I even need one. I never really needed a business address it was more about the expectation that a legitimate business needs an office. I have often met with clients in coffee shops or in their homes. More recently we meet by phone or via ZOOM or even outside now that it is warm enough to go outside.

There is more housing downtown than ever before and more restaurants and there is a ballpark and the union depot too. There are also miles of vacant office space and empty streets during business hours.  Our downtown has made many comebacks. I am hoping for another.


Empty sidewlaks and streets downtown St. Paul
Downtown St. Paul


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