Who will get STAR grants?

African retail plaza, food shelf, and Como Park pavilion work among hopefuls

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Creation of an African retail plaza, a new home for the Keystone Community Services food shelf and improvements to the pavilion at Como Park are among the hopefuls competing for 2021 Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) grants and loans. Seventy-four projects are in the mix this year, including several small business along University Avenue.
Another six projects were rejected due to ineligible expenses or site control issues.
The 21-member Neighborhood STAR Board is now reviewing applications and will make its recommendations to the mayor and city council in late spring. The St. Paul Planning Commission will also review the applications for consistency with the city’s comprehensive and neighborhood plans.
After the mayor weighs in, the city council is expected to approve the projects later this summer.
Requests for funding greatly outpace available dollars. The 2021 requests total $6,044,126.83. The grant requests total $3,933,670.03. Loan asks total $2,110,456.80. Matches pledged total $25,448,653.
The 2021 total funding available isn’t know yet. In 2020 the council allocated $1.6 million.
Commercial projects make up the bulk of the candidates, with 62. Five housing projects are in the mix, with seven public improvement projects. Fifteen projects were submitted in Ward One, 19 in Ward Two, a partial project in Ward Three, 12 in Ward Four, four in Ward Five, nine in Ward Six, 10 in Ward 7 and five citywide or multi-ward projects.
In 2020, 60 projects were submitted for Neighborhood STAR. Twenty-one projects were funded. The COVID-19 pandemic struck just as review of submissions began, forcing a virtual review process. The 2021 process will also be virtual.
Several asks came from University Avenue businesses, including Best Steak House, Little Szechuan, Salon Elise, West Indies Soul, multi-tenant buildings at 690 University and 385 University, and a project dubbed Frogtown Crossroads with no designated address.
One area request is from Keystone Community Services, which hopes to open a food shelf and program space at 1790-1800 University Ave. The nonprofit seeks a $100,000 grant with $100,000 match, to go toward the cost of renovating two 1920s-era commercial buildings.
Another is from African Economic Development Solutions, which seeks a $75,000 grant and $25,000 loan to rehabilitate a vacant commercial building at 678 N. Snelling Ave. The building, which most recently was a fan shop, needs a new roof and new windows, as well as extensive interior and exterior work. It is currently undergoing review by the city due to its deteriorated condition.
AEDS has pledged a $50,000 match toward the project.
A third is from Lancer Food and Beverage, which seeks a $19,000 grant with $19,488 match to remove three windows at the Como Park lakeside pavilion and replace them with doors, and add awnings.

Other area projects include:
Bang Brewing Company, 2310 Capp Road, seeks a $75,000 grant and $75,000 loan with $150,000 match to expand its facilities and make renewable energy improvements.
Center for Community Services, 1399 Eustis St., seeks a $35,000 grant with $35,000 match to improve its parking lot, add signage and lighting, and add garden space.
Community Action Program of Ramsey and Washington Counties, 450 Syndicate St., seeks $40,000 grant and $60,000 loan with $448,550 match to install a white roof and solar array on its resource center building. The building houses 15 community service nonprofits.
Creative Enterprise Zone in West Midway seeks a $120,000 grant with $120,000 match to provide six to eight grants through a small business resilience fund.
IO investments LLC seeks a $25,000 grant with $25,000 match to make interior and exterior improvements to the Brassavola Building at 1053 N. Dale St.
Mariam’s Daycare, 567 Asbury St., seeks a $25,000 grant with $25,000 match to renovate the facility’s basement.
OMG Digital Media Solutions, 550 Vandalia St., seeks a $125,00 grant and $125,000 loan with a $200,000 match to build out a state-of-the-art studio, creative space and digital performance venue.
Podium Custom Sports Apparel, 2408 Territorial Road, seeks a $20,000 grant with $20,000 match to make parking lot improvements.
St. Anthony Park Community Council seeks a $10,000 grant with $21,350 match for public space improvements in the Territorial-Carleton area.
SA Food Brothers LLC seeks a $20,000 grant, a $5,000 loan with a $20,000 match to renovate its building at 629 Aldine St.
Sannah Foundation, 1276 University Ave., seeks a $100,000 grant with $100,000 match to make interior and exterior building improvements to its building.
Victoria Theater Arts Center, 825 University Ave., is seeking a $100,000 grant with $3.8 million match as part of the project to adapt the former nightclub and move theater for community art center use.
Work It Coworking Space, 635 Fairview Ave. is seeking a $27,275 grant with $28,965 match to install a sprinkler system to convert the coworking space into a child care facility.

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