Dear good citizens of St. Paul: Start shopping for walking shoes.
An ambitious plan already in motion would see Minnesota's capital city constructing a 1.5 mile long balcony/promenade structure next to the Mississippi River, part of what St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman calls an effort to make the river "downtown Saint Paul's front yard."
As it is now, one could spend a great deal of time working, living, and traveling around downtown St. Paul, and only occasionally be reminded that there's a river right next door.
If approved, the plan would add "vibrant outdoor spaces" to river-adjacent land stretching from Union Depot to the Science Museum, through an "elevated pedestrian walkway" along the bluffs of the Mississippi. Coleman's statement announcing a draft plan release promises a "jaw-dropping panoramic view of the great river valley."
Adds Coleman (now a DFL Party candidate for governor): "Personally, I'm looking forward to crossing another item off my mayoral bucket list: having a beer along the river in downtown Saint Paul."
Let's get to that part. One element of the proposal would see a new building constructed near the Wabasha Street Bridge, to serve as a "beer garden/brew pub." Whose beer? The city's plan doesn't say, but it's safe to assume some existing (or new) beer-makers with means would be interested in such a centrally located property.
Other noteworthy facets of the draft plan:
A series of new or improved balconies along the route for river views, and taking a break from all that walking;
A couple towers with stairs and elevators, to help people reach the elevated walkway from street level;
A combination of "'natural' and architectural landscape," with plenty of plants and a few trees;
Public art placement sites, for both permanent artworks and "temprorary/rotating installations."
Coleman notes that making the river more accessible to downtown pedestrians "has been a priority of mine and this city's for decades." As the Pioneer Press points out, a few drawings and building a cool little scale model still leaves a lot to be done.
The proposal is now open for public comment, which can be submitted to Lucy Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at 1300 City Hall Annex, 25 W. Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN, 55102) and must be submitted before May 19. The St. Paul City Council plans to review the plan in its June hearing, and, if convinced, would adopt it as an amendment to the city's "Great River Passage" plan.
This is cool!
Between this, and the proposed amphitheater development in north Minneapolis, it appears the Twin Cities are getting around to realizing this river thing is good for more than shipping grain and luring condo developers.
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