What’s making news in St. Paul, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to richard.meryhew@startribune.com.

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New, giant St. Paul mini-golf operation seeking artists

Posted by: James Walsh Updated: January 5, 2015 - 3:55 PM

Can Can Wonderland, the former Blue Ox Mini Golf, has issued a call for artists to help design its new 19,000-square foot indoor facility.

Housed in the belly of what was a former St. Paul can factory and near an indoor train yard with real trains, Can Can Wonderland is seeking artists to design "playable art that can captivate the senses."

Can Can Wonderland is offering two proposal options:

A $5,000 stipend for each selected design & build proposal or a $1,000 stipend for each selected design only proposal to be built by Can Can's team of artists.

Can Can Wonderland said it also wants "engineers, architects, designers, makers, dreamers, students, hackers, etc." to step forward with proposals. Interested applicants may submit more than one proposal.

The deadline is March 1.

For more information, email christi@cancanwonderland.com or call 612.871.2545.

Midway Stadium site gets state money for cleanup

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: December 23, 2014 - 12:41 PM

While the Saints’ new ballpark continues to rise in downtown St. Paul, plans for their old home at Midway Stadium got a significant boost Tuesday from the state.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) announced $4.16 million in pollution cleanup or investigative grants to 10 redevelopment sites across the state, including $1.25 million to remediate the old ballpark site near Snelling Avenue in St. Paul.

The 12.9-acre site, once a dump, is co-owned by the St. Paul Port Authority and United Properties. They plan to build a light-industrial building where nearly 200 people can be employed. The redevelopment is expected to increase the tax base by $814,331.

The Port Authority and other grant sources will match the cleanup costs, according to a DEED news release.

The Port Authority acquired the Midway Stadium site in 2012 in a land swap with the city of St. Paul, which didn’t have the needed funds to buy the Lowertown site for the new ballpark. The Port Authority bought the downtown site for $1.85 million, then gave it to the city in exchange for the Midway site.

Another St. Paul developer also received $200,000 to clean up pollution at a site along W. 7th Street near the Xcel Energy Center, where a new hotel, housing and street-level commercial space are planned. The redevelopment is expected to add 50 jobs and increase the tax base by $818,317.

Other sites receiving cleanup grants Tuesday, along with plans for redevelopment: Howe Fertilizer, Brooklyn Center, dock facility, $610,000; 602 Residences, Minneapolis, condos and underground parking, $292,000; New Horizon Academy, Minneapolis, daycare center, $243,000; Brad’s Auto Salvage, Blue Earth County, shop and office building, $233,000; Washington and Chicago redevelopment, Minneapolis, apartment building with commercial space, $227,000; city of Mankato, children’s museum, $98,000; and Garceau Hardware, Vadnais Heights, senior housing complex, $18,000.

The X and RiverCentre are easy on the environment

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: December 3, 2014 - 2:31 PM

Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, will be at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday morning to announce that the Minnesota Wild’s home arena, along with the rest of the RiverCentre complex, is high on sustainability.

The downtown St. Paul entertainment complex, which includes the convention center and Roy Wilkins Auditorium, this year won three of the biggest prizes in the green world: certification from LEED, Green Globes and APEX/ASTM, all organizations that make independent judgments on environmentally-sound construction and operations.

Kathy Ross of the Wild, which manages RiverCentre for the city, said that getting all three certifications is a first for a complex of this sort. And most such honors of this sort go to newly-built structures, not buildings that went up years ago.

Officials say that RiverCentre and Xcel Center recycle 60 percent of its waste, use solar energy and wind power to reduce carbon by more than half, save thousands of gallons of water with faucet aerators, and buy office products and cleaning materials that are environmentally preferable.

Joining Bettman at an 11 a.m. news conference at Xcel will be Mayor Chris Coleman, Wild owner Craig Leopold and RiverCentre general manager Jim Ibister.

Maplewood police investigate armed robbery

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet Updated: October 24, 2014 - 5:11 PM

Police are investigating the armed robberies of Walgreens locations in White Bear Lake and Maplewood that happened back-to-back Friday.

At about 3:30 a.m., Maplewood police were called to the Walgreens in the 2900 block of White Bear Avenue on the report of an armed robbery. Employees said a man pointed a handgun at them, made repeated threats to shoot them and demanded money from the registers. The man, who was dressed in dark clothing with a scarf that covered most of his face, left the store with an undisclosed amount of money. No one was injured during the incident. Police weren't able to find the suspect.

A short time later, a Walgreens in White Bear Lake was robbed by a suspect with a similar description. Investigators from the Maplewood and White Bear Lake police are working to determine if the robberies are connected with others in the metro area.

Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call 651-767-0640 or 9-1-1. Anonymous text message tips can be sent by texting the word Maplewood and the tip information to TIP411 (847411).

Opus recommended to develop Seven Corners Gateway site

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere Updated: October 16, 2014 - 12:22 PM

A partnership led by Opus Development Co. has been recommended to develop the Seven Corners Gateway site in downtown St. Paul, a small but highly visible parcel across from Xcel Energy Center for which the city has had big plans for years.

The Opus proposal, put forward with Greco Development, includes a hotel, market-rate multi-family housing and retail stores surrounding a public plaza. Retail possibilities include restaurants, convenience shops and entertainment.

In a prepared statement, Mayor Chris Coleman said the Opus proposal “is continued proof of the city’s vitality and economic momentum.”

If the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority – made up of City Council members – approves the tentative developer agreement at next week’s meeting, Opus and Greco will have 18 months to formalize the proposal.

The site is considered valuable for its proximity to downtown, the W. 7th Street entertainment area and the Smith Avenue Transit Center.

The city issued a request for proposals in July to develop the 2.4-acre site, bounded by W. 7th Street and Kellogg Boulevard. Officials were seeking a mixed-use plan that included a vibrant entertainment district.

The Opus proposal was chosen over the only other proposal received, from M.A. Mortenson Co.

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