News from the Downtown Alliance
July 9, 2020
A note from the president

Friends,

You may have read recently about plans to implement a downtown improvement district (DID) in Saint Paul. This week I've asked the co-chairs of our DID Steering Committee, Julio Fesser, Clint Blaiser and Jim Stolpestad, to share a bit about those plans and the process of creating a district in Saint Paul.

Please also note that beginning this Saturday, July 11 the Robert Street Bridge will close for repairs through the summer and alternative routes into and out of downtown will be necessary.

Stay safe and be well,
 
Joe Spencer
President
Saint Paul Downtown Alliance
A downtown improvement district for Saint Paul
Whether you’re a business leader considering a location for your office and employees or a resident looking for somewhere to live, it is likely that your number one priority is for that place to feel safe. Several factors contribute to how safe a place feels, and it can be different for everyone, but we know a few things for certain. Keeping a place clean from litter and graffiti improves safety outcomes and perceptions, as does attentive maintenance, having active eyes and ears on the street, and general vitality. To accomplish this at a level that meets community-specific needs and standards, cities across the country are utilizing downtown improvement districts.  Downtowns are currently experiencing unprecedented challenges, and we need to implement a downtown improvement district in Saint Paul now more than ever before.

All of us, along with hundreds of others, were involved in the Downtown Vitality Vision process led by the Riverfront Corporation in 2017. One of the top three strategies included in that report was creating a downtown improvement district. For the last several months, business owners and commercial property representatives have been meeting to discuss the opportunity to strengthen Saint Paul’s downtown through a downtown improvement district. After much research and collaboration, we have submitted a petition to the City that a Saint Paul Downtown Improvement District be established with a clear focus on a safe and clean program.

Our Saint Paul model will be based on best practices and will include two primary programs that will be enacted in phases. The first program to be implemented will be the creation of a Safety Communications Center or “Fusion Center.” This phase will focus on coordinating and leveraging existing safety assets including private security, nonprofit service programming, as well as police and other public safety partners. This program will not only establish and condition collaborative communication amongst those groups, but will also coordinate technology assets including cameras, radio channels and other tools. The Downtown Alliance will actually build and kick-start the fusion center this year and the DID will pay the operating costs starting in 2021.  

The second phase will be the creation of a highly visible ambassador program, to be rolled out in 2022.  This phase will add eyes and ears to our streets and public spaces in a very public manner, creating a welcoming presence for visitors and dramatically improving cleanliness. As both programs are implemented, we will be collecting data, tracking outcomes and communicating this information.

The City Council must vote to approve the district, and that process will take place throughout this summer and into fall. Additional information about the Saint Paul Downtown Improvement District can be found here.

We welcome any questions any questions you have about this process or the DID , and look forward to strengthening our downtown in the years to come.

Sincerely,

Saint Paul Downtown Improvement District Development Steering Committee Co-Chairs
Clint Blaiser
Halverson Blaiser Group
Julio Fesser
Securian Financial
Jim Stolpestad
Exeter Group
Have questions?