Pilot program part of research into potential downtown business improvement district

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance announced today that it will pilot a Stewardship Program in downtown Saint Paul this summer as part of the organization’s research into a potential business improvement district in downtown Saint Paul. The Stewardship Program will deploy full-time staff around Central Station, Rice Park, Landmark Plaza and Hamm Plaza to keep these vibrant areas welcoming, clean and safe. The program will also fund community activities, art projects and social activations in the same areas, providing a multiplier effect for all the efforts and investments aimed at building a vibrant downtown.

“In talking with business owners, employees, residents and visitors, we have confirmed that cleanliness, safety and vibrancy are top priorities for them when spending time downtown,” said Downtown Alliance President Joe Spencer. “Major cities across the country use business improvement districts to ensure these traits in their downtowns, and the Stewardship Program will help us test this concept in two key zones in Saint Paul.”

With funding from the Knight Foundation, John and Ruth Huss, and Dr. Lowell Hellervik, the Stewardship Program will focus on two zones downtown: (1) a two-block area that includes the Central Station Green Line platform and the adjacent bus stops on Fifth and Sixth streets between Minnesota and Cedar streets; and (2) Hamm Plaza, Landmark Plaza and Rice Park, which is the center of downtown’s largest visitor destinations and adjacent to some of the city’s largest private employers.

The Downtown Alliance will work with Block by Block, a national organization that operates business improvement districts, to deploy full-time staff to the two priority zones to pick up trash, coordinate with adjacent businesses, and give directions to visitors. The organization is also accepting proposals for projects that bring vibrancy and activity to the two priority zones. Funding from $500 to $10,000 will be awarded for projects ranging from beautification efforts to performances to youth activities. Applications are due April 15, and projects must take place June through August 2019.

“The continued growth and vitality of downtown is critical to the health of our entire city,” said Chris Hilger, president and CEO of Securian Financial and co-chair of the Downtown Alliance. “We hope that this pilot program will give the downtown community a sample of what could be possible in a larger, ongoing business improvement district.”

The Downtown Alliance is researching the potential development of a business improvement district for downtown Saint Paul. Business improvement districts – also known as special service districts – are used by cities across the country to provide and fund local improvements through special assessments and service charges to commercial property owners and other properties which voluntarily choose to participate.

About the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance

The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance is a nonprofit organization that represents downtown businesses, nonprofits, government entities, residents, and entrepreneurs to build a strong and vibrant downtown and create a positive downtown experience. The group aims to benefit the entire city and region by recruiting new employers, attracting new investments, advocating for downtown, and creating a positive experience for visitors, residents and workers alike. For more information about the Downtown Alliance, visit stpdowntownalliance.org.