NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS

From Grand Avenue to downtown Saint Paul to the far reaches of West Seventh Street, four new dining establishments have opened or will open in the coming weeks in the capital city. While all of the establishments are or will be serving food, beverages are clearly their top attractions. Here’s a look at the new Bar & Cart, Gambit Brewing, Wildflyer Coffee, and Wandering Leaf Brewing with food from the Soul Lao Restaurant.

The busy section of Robert Street between Kellogg Boulevard and I-94 is slated for reconstruction in 2025-2026. The Saint Paul Planning Commission’s Transportation Committee got its first look at the project on January 9. The upcoming work is believed to be the street’s first major reconstruction project in a century.

The Saint Paul Department of Public Works will offer two opportunities to view the recommended design for reconstructing Grand Avenue between Snelling and Fairview avenues. An in-person open house will be held from noon-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, January 31, in Macalester College’s  Davis Court, 1600 Grand Ave. People are invited to stop in anytime to view the project layout and ask questions. There will be no formal presentation. A virtual open house will follow from 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, February 1, with a short presentation at 5:30 p.m. The link will be available on the meeting day.

Grand Old Day will be back on the street again

June 4 fest will mark its 50th year

After a three-year hiatus, Grand Old Day will return on June 4 to once again herald the beginning of summer in Saint Paul. More than two dozen Grand Avenue Business Association members celebrated the announcement at the business group’s annual meeting on January 19.

Mendota Heights will offer free activities for all ages during Frozen Fun Fest 2023 on February 3-10, including a medallion hunt, Cupid’s Crawl, puzzle and coloring competitions, ice festival, ice fishing and FootGolf in the snow.

Lowertown’s Argyle Zebra (AZ) Gallery has been reframed. Artists Amy Clark and Beth Stoneberg have assumed ownership of the 2,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of the Northern Warehouse at 308 Prince St. They also changed its structure from a member-owned artist cooperative to a nonprofit organization.

A $75 million gift from longtime benefactors Lee and Penny Anderson to the University of Saint Thomas has launched a year-long effort to draw up plans for a new hockey and basketball arena on UST’s south campus. The donation has also ignited a discussion of what the new 4,000- to 6,000-seat multipurpose facility would mean for the adjacent Macalester-Groveland and Merriam Park neighborhoods.

Guide to 2023 Winter Carnival on Jan. 26-Feb. 5

Get ready for laser lights, Rondo Night and more

The 137th Saint Paul Winter Carnival will feature a new Light Up the Park event, lip sync contest, Rondo Night and first-ever presenting sponsor (Priority Courier Experts) when it returns for its frosty 11-day run on January 26-February 5. Lisa Jacobson of the Saint Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation is excited about putting on a bigger carnival in 2023. “This year, we are intentionally creating events that welcome all communities,” she said. “We’re working with a variety of new partners, including event organizers from the Rondo neighborhood, to produce a carnival that all people can enjoy.”

Residents of Lexington Landing worry about speeding vehicles and pedestrian safety when crossing the rerouted section of Lexington Parkway that divides the two halves of the senior apartment complex. They are asking for safety improvements at the site, such as a raised crosswalk or even a skyway between the development’s two buildings.

Green rings painted on boulevard tree trunks indicates that another round of ash tree removal is underway in Saint Paul. As of mid-January crews had removed 119 out of nearly 2,504 trees that are scheduled to come down this year. Another 1,511 boulevard ash trees are scheduled for structured removal in 2024.

The city of Saint Paul’s efforts to compensate Rondo neighborhood homeowners displaced six decades ago by the construction of I-94 took several key steps forward on January 11. The Saint Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) Board allocated $2 million to a city program that provides help with home down payments.

Saint Paul’s earned sick and safe time requirements are changing, with unanimous City Council approval on January 18. Along with several technical and procedural changes, one key modification brings the city’s rules into compliance with a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision.

Will the third time be the charm for the old bathhouse in Highland Park? The Saint Paul Department of Parks and Recreation hopes so. The city issued another request for proposals for reusing the facility in January. The 1936 building has remained largely vacant since the old swimming pool closed in 1979.

EDUCATION

For the past three years, District 197 middle and high school students have built “solar suitcases” that are helping youngsters in African schools continue to study and do homework even when the sun goes down.

Friendly Hills Middle School in Mendota Heights began the solar suitcases program in 2019. Through veteran teacher Katy Lynch, the school acquired several of the devices to teach students about electricity and solar energy.

ON THE TOWN

After four years in development involving scores of interviews with people seeking asylum and the people who help resettle them, I Was a Stranger Too will make its world premiere on January 26-29. Written by Cynthia L. Cooper and directed by Carolyn Levy of Ramsey Hill, the play will be performed at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Wellstone Center at Neighborhood House, 179 E. Robie St.

Classical and contemporary choreog­raphy will be performed by CAAM Chinese Dance Theater in concert on February 4 and 5 in the O’Shaughnessy at Saint Catherine University. Entitled “Radiance,” the colorful program will feature world premieres by CAAM artistic director Jinyu Zhou, retired artistic director Lili Teng and performance director Ao Liu. Liu (pictured above) will also perform a new dance in honor of her mentor Yang Liping, aka “the Peacock Queen.” The curtain will rise at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5-$30. Visit oshag.stkate.edu.

SPORTS

When the state Nordic ski competitions are held at Giants Ridge in mid-February, it’s no surprise that the Highland Park High School girls’ team is expected to be right in the mix for another title.

The Scots have won nearly every meet they’ve been in this winter, including the recent Loppet Invitational on January 14 featuring 15 teams from throughout the metro area. The only time Highland wasn’t at the top of the podium was when it finished third in the massive Mesabi East Invitational on January 7. A large reason for this was the absence of one key skier.

The Cretin-Derham Hall boys’ hockey team would like a do-over of last year’s postseason play. But that doesn’t mean the Raiders can’t learn from their past. One year ago, CDH was rated No. 1 in Class AA as they prepared for the state tourney. What happened then was nightmarish as the Raiders were dominated by unheralded Prior Lake. CDH then lost to Edina in the consolation semifinal. It wasn’t how they were hoping for the season to end.

This year, the Raiders had racked up a 13-4-1 record through January 19 and were ranked among the top six in the state in AA. They remained unbeaten in the Suburban East Conference, placing just behind first-place White Bear Lake.

When she was a junior at Highland Park High School, Molly Moening started on a journey. One of the state’s top cross-country skiers, she knew she wanted to compete in the sport in college. There aren’t a lot of colleges that offer Nordic skiing as an NCAA sport. Around these parts, only Saint Cloud State, Saint Olaf and Saint Scholastica do. Moening started researching and zeroed in on the University of Vermont. The Catamounts have been a power in the sport for a long time, with six national championships and 15 second-place finishes since the NCAA began holding men’s competitions in 1954.

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VIEWPOINT

My Uncle Bill had a job at the old Met Center in Bloomington, and when he was working a Minnesota North Stars game, he often took my cousin Natalie and me along. The North Stars were Minnesota’s first National Hockey League franchise, and I relished the excitement of the crowd, the slap of the sticks on the ice and the loud cheers whenever the North Stars scored.

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