Public/private effort aims to further downtown density, vitality and desirability

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance today announced that it is leading an effort in partnership with public and private stakeholders to create a development strategy that furthers density, vitality, and desirability in downtown Saint Paul. The Downtown Investment Strategy will identify three to five priority development opportunities and/or initiatives based on stakeholder input, community engagement, market analysis, and an economic impact assessment.

This new, innovative undertaking pulls together property owners, government entities, nonprofits and business organizations to work together to accomplish economic development goals for downtown Saint Paul. The final strategy will include a clear outline of partner roles and responsibilities, as well as high-level guidance on how to incorporate this strategy into each partner organization’s operating plans.

“Since our founding five years ago, the Alliance has set aggressive goals around density and economic growth in an effort to increase vitality downtown,” said Joe Spencer, president of the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. “Creating a Downtown Investment Strategy is a critical step in achieving those goals. We are grateful to all the partners who are committing to this process with us.”

Informed by research and engagement, the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance’s goals for downtown include adding 20,000 residents (to a total of 30,000, or 10% of the city’s population); adding 20,000 workers (to a total of 75,000, or 50% of citywide jobs); and increasing the number of annual visitors by 20%, to reach 10 million.

“Downtown Saint Paul is the commercial core, cultural center and social heart of our city, and serves as a significant contributor to the property and sales taxes that fund core operations throughout Saint Paul,” said Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter. “The Downtown Investment Strategy is our opportunity to make thoughtful decisions about key investments to preserve and enhance downtown Saint Paul’s unique role both in the city and the state – all while building a downtown for the 21st century and beyond.”

Downtown Investment Strategy partners include the City of Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Saint Paul Port Authority, Saint Paul Area Chamber, Saint Paul Building Owners and Managers Association, Visit Saint Paul, CapitolRiver Council, Knight Foundation, Metropolitan Council, and the private corporations that are members of the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. Representatives from each of these organizations make up a steering committee co-chaired by Chris Hilger, chairman, president and CEO of Securian Financial, and Christophe Beck, chairman and CEO of Ecolab.

“This model of the public and private sectors committing to move in the same direction to accomplish economic development goals for downtown is a new undertaking for Saint Paul,” said Beck. “We look forward to hearing from key stakeholders throughout this process to inform a unique strategy that will benefit businesses, workers, visitors and residents.”

Urban strategy consulting firm James Lima Planning + Development (JLP+D) has been hired by the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance to develop the Downtown Investment Strategy, along with the local Minneapolis office of global design firm Perkins+Will and Saint Paul-based real estate and engagement firm NEOO Partners. Together, the three firms will engage key stakeholders and community members to help inform the final strategy.

“A key priority for us is to hear from communities whose voices are often missed in planning processes, and those who may not feel like downtown Saint Paul is welcoming to them,” said Ramsey County Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo, a member of the steering committee. “The Downtown Investment Strategy will seek to identify investments in inclusive, welcoming opportunities and attractions to ensure downtown is a place for everyone.”

Market and economic analyses were conducted this winter and spring. Engagement will ramp up this summer, with the goal of having a final strategy developed in early 2024. For more information, visit