The planned new Keystone Community Services food shelf, Victoria Theater renovations and conversion of the Work It co-working space into a child care center are among the local projects approved in the 2021 neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) cycle.
St. Paul will fund more than 100 projects and programs through its 2021 Neighborhood and Cultural STAR funding rounds. The St. Paul City Council Aug. 25, 2021 approved $1.685 million in grants and loans for neighborhood projects, and $1.141 million for cultural projects.
Seventy-four projects were submitted in the spring. Six were withdrawn. Before the Aug. 25 vote, council members acknowledged the struggle with many more requests than available funding.
Twenty-four neighborhood projects won approval, but some had their requests trimmed by the Neighborhood STAR Board. Others were added on a tentative basis if more dollars become available.
The top-ranked neighborhood project citywide is Papa Legba LLC, with a $25,000 grant, $25,000 loan and $25,000 match. Planned is a rehabilitation of a former West Side bar into Papa Legba’s lounge.
The area’s highest-ranked project is Victoria Theater, which ranked second citywide. Victoria Theater Arts Center, 825 University Ave., received a $100,000 grant with $3.8 million match as part of the project to adapt the former nightclub and movie theater for community art center use.
West Indies Soul finished fourth and received a $100,000 grant and $100,000 loan with $264,000 match to build out space at Model Cities Brownstone at Victoria and University.
Finishing seventh is the request to renovate the Work It coworking space at 635 N. Fairview Ave. for use as a child care. The project received a $27,275 grant with $28,965 match. The coworking space closed during the early months of the pandemic.
In 10th place is OMG Digital Media Solutions, which was awarded a $100,000 grant and $100,000 loan with $200,000 match to build out a digital media studio at 550 Vandalia.
The Sanneh Foundation finished 11th with its request for 1276 University Ave. The nonprofit was awarded a $100,000 grant with $100,000 match to make interior and exterior building improvements at its building.
Keystone Community Services came in 23rd and is awarded a $56,334 grant toward renovations of 1790-1800 university Ave. The community services agency will renovate two commercial buildings for use as a food shelf and service center. A $100,000 match is proposed.
Keystone’s projects missed the original cut but were able to move up and get part of their requests due to available funding.
Mayor Melvin Carter is asking that two more projects be added if funds become available. One is $25,000 for improvements at the Brassavola building at 1053 N. Dale St.; the other is $100,000 for the Little African plaza planned at 678 N. Snelling Ave.
The 2021 requests totaled $6,044,126.83. The total funded is $1,685,975, of which $1,056,664 is grants and $629,311 is loans.
Area requests that weren’t funded include Bang Brewing Company expansion and renewable energy improvements, Center for Community Services grounds improvements, Community Action Program of Ramsey and Washington Counties white roof and solar array, Creative Enterprise Zone small business resiliency fund, Lance Food and Beverages’ request for Como Park food service improvements, Mariam’s Daycare renovations, Podium Custom Sports Apparel parking lot improvements, Salon Elise and St. Anthony Park Community Council public improvements in the Territorial-Carleton area.
For 2021 Cultural STAR, the city council approved funding for 89 cultural organizations and turned down request from another 29. The funding totals $1,239,050, with $958,880 in grants and $280,170 in loans The mayor added more than $100,000 for projects.
The council also approved $175,000 for St. Paul Public Libraries for arts and cultural materials, with brings the total to $1,414,050.