St. Paul’s newly released Market Watch report tells a familiar story: Lots of people are moving to the city, developers are building more residential space, and jobs have increased since the recession.
But city researchers issued a few warnings in a report to the Planning Commission on Friday. There are large gaps in income, homeownership and other economic factors between people of color and people who are white in St. Paul, they said.
Market Watch, a snapshot of 2016 development and demographic data, provides context to city leaders who face critical decisions over the next year about how to accommodate growth and ensure that it’s equitable. Elected officials will vote soon on a master plan for the now-empty Ford site, and the comprehensive plan that will guide development in the city over the next 20 years is due at the end of 2018.
“The insight that you can get from Market Watch very much sets the stage for the kinds of directions that we’d go in the future,” research analyst Bob Spaulding said, and the data help tell the story of “where the city is at, where there’s a lot of opportunity and some things we need to pay attention to as well in the comp plan.”
The 2040 comprehensive plan outlines how everything from housing to parks to transportation should develop over the next two decades. The number of St. Paul residents is expected to increase 12 percent and employment is projected to grow 23 percent from 2014 to 2040, principal planner Lucy Thompson said Friday.
When people look at those growth projections in the comprehensive plan, Planning Commissioner Daniel Edgerton said they might wonder “How are we going to add 40,000 people if we’re this fully built-out city?”
But, he added, residents said the same thing in 2010 — and since then the city has added more than 19,000 people, according to Market Watch.
“What might that tell us about where the growth might occur over the next 10 years?” Edgerton asked.
Much of the recent population growth has been in downtown and near the light rail, Spaulding said, and those neighborhoods will continue to see an influx of residents, as will the Ford site.
The growth in the city’s population since 2010 has predominantly been people of color, he said.
The per capita income for a person of color in St. Paul was $24,560 less than whites, and 27 percent of people of color were homeowners while 60 percent of whites owned their home, Spaulding said.
Equity is a new priority in the 2040 comprehensive plan, Thompson said. One of the land use goals in the draft 2040 comprehensive plan is more equitable access to employment and housing choices, and better distribution of community amenities.
“That is a pretty bold statement,” Planning Commissioner Cedrick Baker said, adding that city leaders need to think creatively about how to ensure it happens.