Finalists named in Green Line Challenge to find ways to spice up St. Paul’s light-rail neighborhoods

The Knight Foundation has announced 27 finalists in Year Two of its Green Line Challenge, which funds winning ideas that will improve the neighborhoods near the light-rail line.

This year’s winners, to be announced in late September, will share $500,000 to implement their ideas, which are billed as innovative plans “that tap into the potential of the Green Line to make surrounding neighborhoods in St. Paul more vibrant places to live and work.”

The six neighborhoods in play for the challenge are: Downtown St. Paul, Frogtown/Thomas-Dale, Hamline Midway, St. Anthony Park, Summit-University and Union Park.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Block by Block (8-80 Cities). To work with community leaders in six Green Line neighborhoods to host block parties that will help build community connections and rethink public space.
  • Bridging the Gap: Connecting the Green Line to the Greenway and Beyond (St. Anthony Park Community Council). To develop a coalition to explore connecting the Midtown Greenway to the Green Line via the Short Line Bridge, an iconic and historic route over the Mississippi River.
  • Charles and Griggs Bikeways Tool Station (Erin Pavlica). To create a bike tool station at the Charles/Griggs Bikeways intersection where riders can stop, connect and learn more about bike maintenance.
  • Creating a Heart in the Zone: A Market for Body, Mind and Soul (Michael Russelle). To strengthen community ties in the Creative Enterprise Zone by developing a new pop-up market designed as a vibrant town square where people can meet, shop, eat and enjoy artistic performances.
  • Dale Street Local (Michael Olson and David Marston). To strengthen community bonds by adding contextual information that highlights the unique attributes of surrounding neighborhoods at the Dale Street Station.
  • Designing the Little Africa Cultural Corridor (African Economic Development Solutions). To develop a new plan for urban design in Little Africa by combining feedback from community members and technical experts with placemaking activities.
  • Energy Equals Movement and Community Squared (E=MC2) (We Lighting LLC). To better connect the Mississippi River path to downtown by enhancing the walkability of the Sibley underpass through creative lighting.
  • Food Truck Mingle! (St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce). To transform a vacant Central Station lot into a food truck corral where downtown workers and transit riders can mingle and break bread together.
  • Fourth Street Festival (Minnesota Museum of American Art). To bring to life a vision for a car-free downtown corridor by opening Fourth Street to pedestrians and bikes for a one-day festival of art, performance and music.
  • Friendship Forest (Amanda Lovelee). To creatively unite residents and beautify the urban environment by planting 500 trees in one day on vacant, underused land along the Green Line.
  • Green Line Commons (Rice Park Association). To link five downtown public spaces between Central Station and Rice Park to create a dynamic, new public commons.
  • Green Line Community Visioning Parklet (Jim Ivey). To create a toolkit that will help users convert an on-street parking space into a temporary parklet to engage people in shaping their community.
  • Green UP Union Park (Union Park District Council). To engage the Union Park community in developing an inviting pocket park that creates an attractive, pedestrian-friendly gateway to the Snelling Green Line station.
  • Griggs Park Community Green Space (The Trust for Public Land). To work with diverse residents near Lexington and University streets to develop a community vision for a new park.
  • Historic Rondo Village (Aurora St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corp.). To explore the creation of a family-oriented, multi-use park near Lexington Parkway with open air markets and festivals in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
  • Improved Walkability through Signage (Matt Privratsky). To encourage people to explore neighborhoods near the Green Line by improving maps on existing signs with more engaging navigational cues and information.
  • Johnny Baby’s Rondo Park (Johnny Baby’s). To strengthen neighborhood life in Frogtown by creating a new gathering space within an underutilized parking lot.
  • Little Africa Weekend Market (Little Africa Development Group). To provide a space for African immigrant entrepreneurs and artists to showcase their products and ideas at a Little Africa Weekend Market.
  • Living Landmarks: Resident-Led Neighborhood Tours (Minnesota Historical Society). To offer a series of new community-led walking tours that highlight the unique strengths and qualities of Central Corridor neighborhoods.
  • Mind If I Sit Here? (Heather Cole). To promote more interaction between residents and improve neighborhood life in downtown St. Paul by inviting people to take part in brown-bag conversations that change location regularly.
  • River Balcony Prototyping Festival (Saint Paul Riverfront Corp.). To prototype ideas to develop a vibrant River Balcony, a civic walkway with a mix of shopping, living, and interactive art that links downtown Green Line riders to the Mississippi River area and adjacent parks and trails.
  • Rock the Public Meeting (St. Paul Smart Trips). To increase resident participation in transportation planning along the Green Line through creative, youth-led pop-up placemaking projects in Frogtown.
  • Rondo Commemorative Plaza and Garden (Rondo Avenue Inc.). To create an interactive, technology-driven public space where visitors can learn about the history of the African-American community of Rondo.
  • St. Paul Green Line Better Block (Team Better Block). To engage residents in rapid prototyping of changes they would like to see in  their neighborhood.
  • Storefront Selfies! (West Bank Business Association). To create a beautiful visual landscape along the Green Line by pairing local artists with business owners to improve façades with creative signage, murals and brilliant lights
  • Turning Businesses Into Developers Projects (Craig Blakely). To provide local businesses with advice from development experts so that they can redevelop their sites and avoid displacement.
  • weeCinema (The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul). To create a fanciful, moveable theater in a freight container that can pop up in public spaces along the Green Line.

Last year, 16 winners were chosen in the first year of the three-year program and shared the $500,000 grant. Among them were: library wi-fi, a BBQ space, jazz projects, transforming the I-94 bridges, expanding the Night Market in Little Mekong, cultivating urban farms and promoting Green Line ridership by seniors and youth with disabilities.

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