Three St. Paul nonprofits are launching a campaign to raise $1.35 million for a project to renovate Rice Park in downtown St. Paul.

The groups — the St. Paul Garden Club, the Rice Park Association and the St. Paul Parks Conservancy — will hold a campaign kickoff on Nov. 23 in Rice Park, the square across from the Ordway Center that is considered one of the most attractive urban spaces in the country.

The project, expected to cost $2.4 million, would include new lighting and paving, movable chairs and tables, and new plants while clearing some old trees. The fountain and statue of native F. Scott Fitzgerald would remain.

“The hope is that the city will partner with us for the balance” of the cost, said Colleen FitzPatrick, a garden club member who serves on the park revitalization committee.

The garden club, which helps maintain Rice Park, kicked off planning for the project last year with a $46,000 grant. FitzPatrick said they hope that funding will be secured by the end of 2016.




Groundbreaking held for new Ridgedale mid-rise

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday to celebrate a new six-story building in Minnetonka’s Ridgedale area.

The Shops at 1700 and the Residences at 1700 will be a 155,000-square-foot, mixed-use project replacing the three-story Highland Bank off Cartway Lane and Plymouth Road. The City Council approved plans last December for the project, pegged as precedent-setting for a wave of redevelopment expected in the area over the next two decades to draw people for more than just shopping like St. Louis Park’s West End.

The council initially denied plans after nearby residents opposed it, saying it was too tall and dense for Minnetonka. The council later approved slightly scaled back plans by Paster Properties and Bader Development.

The building, at 1700 Plymouth Road, will become one of the city’s two most densely settled apartment buildings and includes ground floor retail, 115 luxury apartments, underground parking and an outdoor pool deck. It’s slated to open in early 2017.




City aims to reduce rental properties and crime

South St. Paul landlords are concerned about several proposed changes to the city’s rental ordinance. The City Council will consider the changes, intended to prevent crime, Monday evening.

South St. Paul is one of several inner-ring suburbs trying to cracking down on problem properties.

If enacted, the altered ordinance would limit rental properties in the city. No more than 10 percent of single-family or two-family properties on a block could get a rental license in certain zoning districts.

Other changes include adding background checks and requiring landlords to include a crime-free addendum with leases. The City Council would also be able to deny, revoke or suspend a rental license if a tenant has two violations of state or local laws in three months. Currently, the council only has that ability if three violations occur within a year.

At least a handful of landlords have contacted the city to voice concerns. Many fear they will be held responsible for tenants’ poor behavior and could lose their rental licenses.




Great food will be at heart of holiday kickoff

One of the Twin Cities’ earliest holiday traditions will be held Friday — the Mayor’s Taste of Columbia Heights event. It’ll take place from 6 to 10 p.m. at Murzyn Hall, 30 Mill St.

Admission is free, but each food sample will cost $2.

Participating Columbia Heights restaurants include Basha Mediterranean Wood Grill, Karta Thai, Sarna’s Classic Grill, O-City, Royal Orchid, Miller’s Corner Bar & Grill, Tasty Pizza, Kevin Lindee Chocolatier, El Tequila Mexican Grill & Bar, and Adelita’s Panaderia Bakery.

There also will be a wine and beer tasting, a cash bar, music, a raffle and a silent auction.