Three ideas are competing for a $1 million prize to revitalize St. Paul — and Minnesotans can vote for their favorite starting now.
The Minnesota Idea Open and the St. Paul Foundation announced Tuesday the three finalists in the Forever St. Paul Challenge, a contest launched last winter to find and finance the best idea to improve the capital city. The finalists are:
• St. Paul Art Train, submitted by Craig Blakely, which would convert unused rail cars into rentable studios for artists and creative businesses (www.mnideaopen.org/node/20546).
• St. Paul Center for Creative Arts, submitted by Jack Ray, a hub for youths to learn, practice and use creative disciplines for the good of the community (www.mnideaopen/node/19546).
• Urban Oasis, submitted by Tracy Sides, which would remake part of the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary into a unique food hub (www.mnideaopen/node/18786).
The St. Paul Foundation is fronting the $1 million award to make the winning proposal a reality. The prize money comes out of a larger donation made four years ago to community foundations by the Minneapolis-St. Paul 2008 Host Committee, which ran the 2008 Republican National Convention.
The finalists were selected by a panel of nine judges from a pool of 30 semifinalists chosen by community volunteers. Nearly 1,000 ideas were submitted.
Minnesota residents can vote online at www.mnideaopen.org/foreversaintpaul or at upcoming events including the State Fair. Voting ends Sept. 2.