West Seventh businesses petition to join Saint Paul Downtown Improvement District

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Commercial property owners along West Seventh Street to Grand Avenue in downtown Saint Paul have submitted petitions to City Council to join the Saint Paul Downtown Improvement District (SPDID). Participation in the district provides additional services to the neighborhood, from trash and graffiti cleanup to having Street Team ambassadors providing directions to visitors and being an extra set of eyes and ears for public safety and outreach professionals. While the City Council will need several weeks to go through the process of amending the existing ordinance to expand the SPDID, some services have already began in the area as of May 1, thanks to funds from Knight Foundation.

Launched in 2021, the SPDID is a self-imposed and self-managed effort led by the private sector to increase safety, vibrancy and cleanliness downtown. It is also Saint Paul’s first Special Service District. The Saint Paul Downtown Alliance serves as an umbrella organization for the SPDID and contracts with the district to manage and implement its operations.

“DIDs are proven to dramatically improve public safety and security, enhance the upkeep and maintenance of public spaces, and attract new businesses while retaining existing ones,” said Joe Spencer, president of the Saint Paul Downtown Alliance. “Business owners in the West Seventh area have very clearly expressed a desire to join the Saint Paul Downtown Improvement District, and we agree that it would be beneficial to everyone to expand the district into this crucial hospitality and entertainment zone.”

The SPDID currently encompasses many of downtown Saint Paul’s prominent entertainment venues, along with corporate headquarters for several large businesses, including Ecolab, Securian Financial, Travelers and others. Funds from participating commercial property owners, as well as voluntary contributions from the City, County and other tax-exempt property owners, provide enhanced services, including the Safety Communications Center and the deployment of Street Team Ambassadors.

“We are thrilled to be expanding the district and adding this incredible neighborhood that is critical to our city’s economic vitality and success,” said Clinton Blaiser, chair of the SPDID. “The more we can grow and provide services to our downtown property owners, the larger impact we can have for everyone who visits, live and works in downtown.”

West Seventh petitioners include property owners in the hospitality, hotel and health care sectors.

“As a longtime business owner along West Seventh, doing everything I can to ensure that my customers have a positive, safe experience downtown is important to me,” said Pat Boemer, owner of Patrick McGovern’s Pub and one of the business owners who signed a petition to join the SPDID. “The SPDID has made a clear impact on other areas downtown – we’d like to benefit from those same crucial services in our neighborhood.”

Building off the establishment of the Safety Communications Center in 2021, the SPDID focused in 2022 on building a high-visibility Street Team program. In 2022, the Street Team Ambassadors:
• Were on the ground daily from 7 a.m.-11 p.m., averaging 616 hours of service each week.
• Picked up over 284,300 pieces of trash and removed 1,568 pieces of graffiti.
• Offered 601 outreach referrals.
• Provided over 1,930 hospitality escorts.