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Posts in Category: Station Spotlight

METRO Green Line Station Spotlight

At Fairview Avenue Station, 'it's all coming together' 

| Friday, March 07, 2014 12:41:00 PM

Frustrated with the costs of maintaining and owning a vehicle, Heather Erickson sold her car and moved to downtown Minneapolis three years ago. She’s been relying on transit ever since.

This June, she will be among those who can use the METRO Green Line to get to and from work. From Minneapolis, she’ll be able to board at the Nicollet Mall Station and ride to the Green Line’s Fairview Avenue Station, a short walk from her office at Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity’s new headquarters on University Avenue.

Erickson, who oversees Habitat’s AmeriCorps program, also expects to ride the train to visit shops, restaurants and other destinations along University Avenue and downtown St. Paul, exploring parts of the city she might otherwise not visit.

“I always stay in Minneapolis so it will be nice to visit some new places in St. Paul,” Erickson said from her third-floor office overlooking the Green Line. “There is so much wonderful stuff here that I always forget about.”

Erickson will be joined at Fairview Avenue Station by a mix of seniors, workers and residents when the Green Line opens on June 14. The station, at University and Fairview avenues, is surrounded by a mix of small businesses, offices and single-family homes. The surrounding Union Park and Hamline-Midway neighborhoods are also home to a mix of parks and schools, including Macalester College, the University of St. Thomas and Concordia University.

Immediately south of Fairview Avenue Station is Episcopal Homes’ Midway Village senior living complex. Around 280 seniors live in existing housing and another 200 will move into three under-construction buildings by early next year.

“We feel like the luckiest people in the world to be located right at this stop,” said Marvin Plakut, Episcopal Homes’ President/CEO. “For seniors, being able to get somewhere without having to bother anyone else is compelling because it provides a real sense of freedom.”

Besides using the train for shopping, entertainment or appointments, residents at Midway Village will be able to visit Episcopal Homes’ other locations near stations at Lexington Parkway and Dale Street, Plakut said.

North of Fairview Avenue Station is the headquarters for Goodwill-Easter Seals Minnesota. Around 300 people work at the site and its retail store generates more than 160,000 shopping visits and 75,000 donation visits annually.

Michael Garberich is among those who work at Goodwill and will be able to take the Green Line to work. A technical writer for the non-profit, Garberich has lived car-free for the last two years and is looking forward to adding light rail to his roster of travel options.

“It will be easier to visit friends who live in St. Paul any time of the week or weekend,” he said. “The bus can get crowded so I’m hoping there will be a better place to sit and read.”

Like Habitat for Humanity, Episcopal Homes and Goodwill, officials at College Possible Twin Cities are also eager to see their employees and the students they work with use the Green Line.

College Possible moved into a larger space at 540 Fairview Ave. last August, in part to be near Fairview Avenue Station. AmeriCorps members at the organization assist thousands of students pursuing college education each year.

“The light rail line was an important consideration as we weighed our options when planning our expansion to a new space,” said Bethany Krueger, the associate director for College Possible Twin Cities. “We need to be accessible to our AmeriCorps members and the students they serve.”

The same desires for access led Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative to the Fairview Avenue Station area. Beacon has begun site work on land at University and Prior avenues, just west of the station, where they plan to build 44 studio apartments for homeless youth.  The Amherst H. Wilder Foundation will provide on-site services at the new building, Prior Crossing.

“It (light-rail) will offer excellent access to both St. Paul College as well as U of M and to many jobs up and down the corridor and in both downtowns,” said Kris Berggren, Beacon’s communications specialist.

John Kachel, the owner of Major Tire Co. at University and Fairview, is getting an extra treat out of watching test trains travel the corridor in anticipation of the Green Line’s opening.

Seven years ago, Kachel allowed artists to paint a mural on the side of his building. The mural includes both a light-rail vehicle and streetcar (occupied by Bob Dylan, Captain Kangaroo, Paul Wellstone, Prince and Kachel's two children).

“At the time, I just thought it would be neat to have an old picture since we’ve been here quite some time,” he said. “But it really is all coming together now isn’t it?”

Fairview Avenue Station At a Glance

Connecting bus routes: Route 16, with service every 20 minutes between downtown St. Paul and the University of Minnesota; Route 67 will run between downtown St. Paul and the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station after the Green Line opens; Route 87 with service between Ford Parkway and the Rosedale Transit Center, has stops nearby at University and Prior Avenues.

Public artNancy Blum created glass mosaics featuring elements of the old oak trees that can be found in the surrounding neighborhoods. Learn more

Area landmarks: Episcopal Homes Midway Village, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, Dickerman Park, Iris Park, Merriam Park Recreation Center, Merriam Terrace Park, Four Seasons Elementary School, Aldine Park, HealthEast Midway Clinic, Griggs Midway Building

Bike-ped connections: North Prior Avenue is striped with bike lanes between West Pierce Butler Road and Marshall Avenue. Going east-west, there are bike lanes on Minnehaha Avenue, a half-mile north of University Avenue, and a bike boulevard on Charles Avenue east of North Aldine Street. The Friendly Streets Initiative will be looking at ways of making Fairview Avenue more bike and pedestrian friendly this year.

Neighborhood groups: Hamline-Midway Coalition, Union Park District Council

METRO Green Line St. Paul Station Spotlight

10th Street Station encased in icy history 

| Friday, January 31, 2014 12:00:00 AM

Nan Jahnke loves the St. Paul Winter Carnival. That’s why, given the opportunity to share her ideas for station artwork at the METRO Green Line’s 10th Street Station, her mind went immediately to ice palaces.

It makes sense, too. Sitting in the middle of Cedar Street south of I-94, 10th Street Station stands where some of the festival's earliest ice palaces were built. The station remains a key gateway to downtown St. Paul and, by extension, the annual wintertime celebration.

“Since this is the station closest to where all the events used to happen, I thought, ‘It’s got to have ice on it, baby,’” said Jahnke, a longtime Winter Carnival volunteer who lives in downtown St. Paul.

And so it does.

Minneapolis artist Janet Lofquist used tens of thousands of tiny pieces of glass and stone, in some ways resembling ice itself, to create a series of mosaics that depict St. Paul’s ice palaces dating from the 1880s, when the Winter Carnival began. Lofquist said it is fitting to highlight such a unique part of St. Paul's history and culture.

“A lot of times we define cities by something that’s unusual about them and this really is one of the more unique and special things about St. Paul,” she said.

While 10th Street Station focuses on a specific season it will become a year round destination for those who live, work and play in the surrounding neighborhood.

Several major institutions are located a short distance from the station, including the History Theatre, McNally Smith College of Music, St. Paul Conservatory of Music and Fitzgerald Theater. Last fall, a new 254-unit apartment building, Penfield Apartments, opened a block east of the station. A new Lunds grocery store will open in the building’s first floor later this year.

Rachel Flynn, the marketing director for the History Theatre, said the organization is excited about the Green Line not just because it will make it easier for artists and patrons to get to the venue but because it will allow theatregoers to enjoy a full night out in St. Paul that includes dinner before the show at one of the amazing restaurants along University Avenue or drinks after the show in Lowertown.

"History Theatre patrons like to learn about the past and experience new things, and they tend to be particularly curious about St. Paul," Flynn said. "I think the Green Line is going to make it all of that even more accessible for them (and us), which is very exciting.​"

Hayley Johnson, an executive assistant and program manager at McNally Smith, said the school is also thrilled to see light rail arrive right outside its doors. Many of McNally’s students live in nearby student housing but those who commute rely heavily on transit or biking, she said.

“Instrument transport has been an issue for a lot of them, especially the basses and the trombones,” she said. “I’m sure riding the light rail will be a whole lot easier than strapping something to a bike.”

The station could also help bring more activity Cedar Street. McNally Smith hosts the Lowertown Guitar Festival and is also involved in the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, which takes place in Mears Park. Northern Spark, an all-night arts festival, will be held on the same day the Green Line opens – June 14.

“We’re kind of at an advantage being one of the first stops downtown,” Johnson said. “We can really be a welcome gate as we’re involved in a lot of these things.”

10th Street Station won’t just be busy during summer or winter festivals, though.

The station is located just south of the State Capitol and St. Joseph's Hospital is just a few blocks to the west. Immediately east of the station, more than 1,200 employees work at the Elmer L. Andersen Human Service Building. Thousands more visit the building for meetings, training and other business every year.

Katie Bauer, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota Department of Human Services, said employees who office at the building have been closely following light-rail construction and are look forward to the June opening.

“DHS employees have closely followed the development and construction of the [METRO Green Line] in anticipation of a convenient new commuting option,” she said.

10th Street Station At a Glance

Connecting bus routesRoute 3, with service between downtown St. Paul to Minneapolis largely along Como Avenue, will be realigned in downtown St. Paul to connect with 10th Street, Capitol/Rice and Central stations; Route 16 will continue to provide local service from downtown St. Paul to the U of M; Route 62, with service between downtown St. Paul and Shoreview; Route 67 with service from downtown St. Paul to the METRO Blue Line’s Franklin Avenue Station; Route 75, with service from downtown St. Paul to West St. Paul, Mendota Heights and Inver Grove Heights; Route 262, with limited-stop service between downtown St. Paul and the 95th Avenue Park & Ride in Blaine.

Public art: Ice palaces for the St. Paul Winter Carnival were built near 10th Street Station in 1886, 1887, 1888 and 1837. Artist Janet Lofquist used these creations as inspiration for her station artwork, depicting the grand arch from the 1887 castle through a glass/stone mosaic. Learn more

Area landmarks: Minnesota State Capitol, Elmer L. Andersen Human Services Building, History Theatre, McNally Smith College of Music, Saint Paul Conservatory of Music, Fitzgerald Theater, Minnesota Public Radio

Bike-ped connections: St. Paul’s long-range bike plan calls for a nearly two-mile off-street trail along Kellogg Boulevard, Jackson Street, St. Peter Street and 10th Street. If built, the trail would link  10th Street Station to other popular downtown destinations, including  Union Depot, Lowertown and the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

Neighborhood groupsCapitol River Council

A Line BRT METRO Green Line St. Paul Station Spotlight

Shows, support and supplies await at Snelling Station 

| Monday, January 27, 2014 3:21:00 PM

Jim Segal is rethinking the type of bags he provides customers at his University Avenue store, Ax-Man Surplus.

That’s because he thinks more than a few of them will be boarding the METRO Green Line after shopping at the store, located less than a block from the Snelling Avenue Station.

“We’ll probably have to get bags with handles to make it easier for people to carry their stuff on the train,” said Segal, whose store deals in everything from bowling pins to snail magnets.

Segal doesn’t mind making a few tweaks at his business, though. In fact, he’s looking forward to the Green Line’s opening as much as anyone along the 11-mile corridor.

“The thing I’m most interested in seeing is new folks coming up and down the avenue,” he said. “We’re going to have exposure to a whole new audience.”

Segal isn’t alone in his anticipation.

Jeri Quest, the co-founder and CEO of Dress for Success Twin Cities, said she expects light rail to greatly improve the non-profit’s ability to help women entering the workforce. The organization, which provides professional attire and career counseling, is located just north of the Snelling Avenue Station on University Avenue.

“We’re thrilled that this station is opening literally across the street from our office,” Quest said. “Our clients really rely on public transportation so we can’t wait for it to open.”

Quest estimated that more than half of the 700 economically disadvantaged women Dress for Success Twin Cities worked with last year used public transportation. Employees and volunteers are also expected to use the train, she said.

Just up the street, Danya Frank said the Snelling station will be a huge asset for concertgoers at the Turf Club. Frank is the executive vice president at First Avenue, which purchased the Turf Club in 2013.

“We’re really excited about what light rail is going to mean for the Midway as a whole and the Turf Club specifically,” Frank said. “A lot more people will have access to come see shows, which gives us a much bigger audience.”

Frank said the train will also be an asset for employees traveling back-and-forth between St. Paul and Minneapolis since many of the venues’ employees don’t have vehicles.

“Having the train makes transportation between the clubs not even easier, but really possible,” she said.

Kari Canfield, the executive director of the Midway Chamber of Commerce, said her group is also looking forward to traveling the corridor on light rail. The Chamber’s offices are in Spruce Tree Centre, at University and Snelling, so visits up-and-down University Avenue will start and end at Snelling Avenue Station.

“Instead of jumping in the car to visit them, we’ll just be getting on the train,” Canfield said. “It’s a great connector and will make our jobs a lot easier.”

Public art at the METRO Green Line's Snelling Avenue Station.Snelling Avenue Station At a Glance

Connecting bus routes: Route 16 buses will continue to serve University Avenue between downtown St. Paul and TCF Bank Stadium. Route 21, which runs between Uptown and downtown St. Paul, travels on University Avenue between Snelling and Hamline avenues. Route 84 travels through the intersection of University and Snelling avenues as it runs between the METRO Blue Line’s 46th Street Station and Rosedale (this is a particularly popular route for those attending the Minnesota State Fair). The A Line (Snelling Avenue BRT) will also open in 2015, bringing high-frequency, limited-stop service to Snelling Avenue between 46th Street Station and Rosedale.

Public art: Artist Roberto Delgado assembled historic and current photos from around the Twin Cities, using a silk screen process to transfer them to tiles. The murals and columns included hundreds of faces, including some of present-day bus riders Delgado photographed. Delgado said the resulting art is “pretty abstract” but is intended to invite the curiosity of those traveling to or from the station. “If you look hard enough you’ll find something,” he said. “And if you find something that’s a pretty good trip, artistically.” Delgado also designed artwork for the Stadium Village and Central stations. Learn more

Area landmarks: Midway Shopping Center, Hamline-Midway Library, Hamline Elementary, Hamline University, Hancock Recreation Center, LEAP High School, Hamline Park, Aldine Park, Dickerman Park

Bike-ped connections: Charles Avenue bike boulevard (construction to be complete in summer 2014); bike lanes on Pascal Street North between I-94 and University Avenue; pedestrian bridge crossing I-94 between Aldine Street and Concordia Avenue; bike lanes on Marshall Avenue west of Snelling Avenue; bike lanes on Minnehaha Avenue west of Hamline Avenue. 

Neighborhood groups: Hamline-Midway, Union Park

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