Neighborhood STAR fund
allocated for area projects
Twenty-one small businesses, housing providers and community organizations are recipients of 2020 Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) grants and loans, awarded September 2 by the St. Paul City Council. The top-ranked project citywide is Elsa’s House of Sleep at 1441 University Ave.
The Neighborhood STAR Board this summer recommended a total of $1,352,777 divided among 16 projects, with $983,700 in grants and $369,077 in loans. Mayor Melvin Carter added five projects, bringing the total to 21.
Carter reallocated $249,866 in unspent project fund balances, to bring the total awarded to $1,602,643. That results in $1,194,633 in grants and $408,101 in loans.
The neighborhood STAR Program is set up to allocate half-cent sales tax proceeds to brick-and-mortar projects. The COVID-19 pandemic forced meetings online. Sixty projects were submitted by the April deadline, with two later withdrawn.
The Elsa’s House of Sleep furniture store was awarded a $49,800 grant to repair stucco, install a new storefront, make ceiling and floor repairs, install a new handicapped-accessible door and install new security cameras.
Second was Neighborhood Development Center, which received a $123,450 grant and $41,150 loan to build a new business incubator at the northwest corner of University Avenue and Dale Street. The Frogtown Crossroads project will include a small business incubator for up to six businesses. The match is $13.3 million. The project is part of a mixed-used development with Wellington Management, which will include affordable housing.
Third is NeighborWorks Home Partners, with a citywide project to help 20 low to moderate-income St. Paul homeowners with lead-based painted windows. To be eligible, owners of single to four-unit dwellings must already be involved in a county window replacement program. The $12,000 grant, which has a $110,000 match, should help each property owner replace about a dozen windows per dwelling.
Ranked 12th is Sun Foods in Uni-Dale Mall, 554 University Ave. Sun Foods received a $75,000 grant and $75,000 loan to install up to 10 new signs, replace windows, do tuckpointing and make parking lot repairs. The match is $150,000.
The Creative Enterprise Zone’s loans and grants for several small businesses in the West Midway ranked 16th. The nonprofit’s request for a $100,000 grant and $100,000 loan was trimmed by almost $40,000 by the Neighborhood STAR Board and then restored by Carter.
Carter used unspent fund balances to partially fund five projects that had been shut out. One is Springboard for the Arts’ work to redevelopment a former auto dealership at 262 University Ave. into an arts center with public park space. Springboard sought a $100,000 grant with $190,000 match for the park project. A $50,000 grant was approved.
The Asian Economic Development Center sought a $205,000 grant with $205,000 match for improvements including murals, one small business façade improvement, two parklets, benches and other amenities. The project was awarded a $75,000 grant.
African Economic Development Solutions sought a $200,000 grant with $200,000 match for loans for business improvements citywide.
Carter also added a Frogtown project at 625 Charles Ave., with a $22,000 grant and $22,000 loan for a parking lot for a business and apartment building. A $44,000 match is proposed.
An area project that wasn’t approved was the Central Baptist office renovation at 420 Roy St. The Central Baptist project, for which Union Park District Council is a partner, called for renovating the 1913 church building into office and retail space.