News from the Downtown Alliance
February 5, 2021
A note from the president


We got some great news for downtown yesterday when Commissioner Steve Grove of the Department of Employment and Economic Development announced that they will remain in downtown Saint Paul. They are moving into the Great Northern Building (formerly 180 E 5th). When DEED issued their RFP in 2019, it was critically important that staying in downtown was the best option. I am incredibly pleased that this will be the case and happy to have been able to work with our economic development partners on the East Team and the team at CBRE on this project. Sometime post COVID-19 it will be great to visit them in their new space.
Thank you to everyone who has sent kind words regarding our new Small Business Spotlight feature. Our small businesses are one of our greatest assets and it's more important than ever that we support them
and highlight how they are adapting to COVID-19. This month we will be featuring some of the amazing Black-owned businesses in downtown, from newly opened to legacy shops. Please also continue to send your recommendations for businesses you'd like to see featured.

Keeping reading to find out how you can sign up for the next Skyway Blood Drive and get notified about updates to the Capital City Bikeway project.

Stay warm and take care, 

Joe Spencer
Saint Paul Downtown Alliance
Bill and Lee Ann with Councilmember Noecker
at last month's drive.
Tenth Skyway Blood Drive this month
When COVID-19 threatened to interrupt blood drives in downtown, Bill Hanley, Kelly Cipra and Lee Ann LaBore stepped in. Working with the Red Cross and Union Depot, they have organized blood drives every month since May of last year with pandemic safety at the forefront. Overall, the nine Skyway Blood Drives have yielded 447 units of blood, which are needed more than ever during the pandemic. The next drive is February18, and spots are still available.

How to follow along with Capital City Bikeway progress
Saint Paul Public Works sent out a project update yesterday afternoon regarding the next leg of the downtown Capital City Bikeway.

Prior to the pandemic, the City held three open houses to gather community input about the St. Peter Street or Wabasha Street bikeway. Saint Paul Public Works is using the community feedback it received to finalize the project recommendations. These recommendations will be shared publicly in a recorded video presentation available later this month.

The video presentation will include a general project update, discussion of interim and long-term design concepts, and Public Works’ recommendation for the segment of the Capital City Bikeway located on one of three corridors:
  • St. Peter Street
  • St. Peter Street/Market Street
  • Wabasha Street/10th Street/St. Peter Street

There will be an opportunity to submit questions and/or share comments via an online form on the Public Works CCB webpage.

The project will also have a public hearing before the City Council at a future date to be determined.

Map showing the routes under consideration. One of the three will be selected.
Click to enlarge.
Small Business Spotlight
Rico's Ice Cream Parlor
written by Emma Burns
Since I started working downtown, one of the most common comments I'd hear was, "downtown needs an ice cream shop." And I completely agreed. I was thrilled when the Rico's Ice Cream Parlor sign went up in the Alliance Bank skyway and over the moon when the gates rolled up in early 2020. The timing of the pandemic and loss of most of downtown's daytime population just weeks after opening has been a challenge for Rico's, but they've stayed open this past year and continue to scoop cones and add to their menu.

From owner Rico Thomas:

"It is a pleasure to serve the great patrons of downtown Saint Paul. Growing up just across the river on the West Side, it has always been a dream of mine to be able to contribute to the culture of the city. I wanted to be able to give everyone downtown a little taste of the West Side, so I added breakfast tacos and burritos to the menu in an attempt to capture the aromas and flavors that were familiar to me growing up. Despite COVID-19 being a hit to business, it has been beneficial to me as a small business owner because I have been able to figure out what is working for my business and build on those strengths, as well as have enough leisure time to try new things. I would like to take the timeout to thank everyone who has been stopping by, trying our breakfast, and buying ice cream, as well as the new faces that plan on making their first visit to Rico's."

Rico's is currently open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with breakfast options available all day. As Rico mentioned, new offerings and specials are regularly available, so the best way to see what's new is to follow along on Instagram. Of course, you can't go wrong with an old fashioned banana split or waffle cone either.

This year we'll be regularly featuring the small businesses that make our downtown second to none.
Have a business you own or love and want to see it featured?
Downtown restaurant and retail options
Stumped for where to order dinner from these days? Or who might have that perfect gift?

Have questions?

Banner photo cred : Visit Saint Paul