November 1, 2019
For many years, Lowertown was the center of Saint Paul’s Arts Community>
However, in the last two decades, negligent city planning has led to its steady contraction while simultaneously, Arts communities have blossomed elsewhere. In the Schmidt Artist’s Lofts off West Seventh and around the Raymond/University district in Saint Paul, and in Northeast Minneapolis.
Utilizing Lowertown’s Prince Street area, here are two achievable concepts designed to restore the luster and allure of Lowertown as ‘The Mother Arts Community’ in Saint Paul. Prince Street Artists Market and Gallery Lofts on Prince Street:
1. Let’s take advantage of the two-block long wall of the newer LRT maintenance barn and create a whole series storybook cottage retail gallery spaces along much of its length (All more recently rebuilt Prince Street, the sidewalk area and the LRT building here are owned by the Public).
These charming cottage galleries could each have electricity, water, air conditioning/heat and vary in dimensional width from 10-20 feet long and 6-8 feet deep (plus porch roofs projecting over sidewalk). They could offer affordable month to month or longer-term leases. Constructed thru private contributions and mostly donated labor, they could be part of a new Artist’s Co-operative that could also include:
2. The construction of a 100-unit live/work artist co-operative built upon the length of the Prince Street parking lot here. With parking retained under the building, private contributions and mostly donated labor could create this block-long, destination arts center unique to the Twin Cities.
Multiple retail gallery spaces could face Prince Street on the front half of level-one. An open-spine, three-level interior would allow all remaining artist studio spaces to face inward and be accessible to the public.
These affordable studio spaces, combined with the building being filled with retail gallery spaces - designed in partnership with Prince Street Artist Market, and Lowertown’s artistic and historic vibe, could be just the start of ensuring that Lowertown regains its rank as ‘The premier artist district in Minnesota’.