For the second year in a row, downtown St. Paul boosters are adding a little vitality to a vacant block surrounding the Green Line’s Central Station.
On Friday, the St. Paul Downtown Alliance will launch pop-up events around the station at 5th and Minnesota streets. Visitors will find a new itinerary of games and artistic activities, food and music — as well as tables and benches to relax and eat lunch or just hang out — from Aug. 1 through Oct. 31.
The alliance is seeking volunteers for Friday’s event who will assemble and decorate furniture, install landscaping and enjoy free refreshments and snacks. The event will go from 3 to 6 p.m.
Joe Spencer, president of the St. Paul Downtown Alliance, said he hopes the expanded event will draw a larger and more diverse group of visitors — from downtown workers to students to transit riders.
This year’s pop-up will feature expanded seating, an active play zone with outdoor activities, including lawn games, a pingpong table, and a book cart and multiple performances each week featuring St. Paul-based artists. There will be Noon Tunes on Tuesdays, Wednesday afternoon guest artist activations and bimonthly interactive Social Jam Sessions in which the public will be invited to participate in a kind of open karaoke. Food trucks will park at the plaza over the lunch hour Tuesday through Friday and there will be a sidewalk street art installation by Ta-coumba Aiken.
As with previous activities in and around the Central Station, the idea is to put positive and safe events into a space that has been known to attract less savory activity.
“In our work we’ve found that positive activity drives out negative activity, without displacing people,” said Max Musicant, whose Musicant Group designed, built and ran the space last year. “We are excited to partner with the Downtown Alliance to expand upon what worked last year. It really did bring a lot of nice energy to that space.”