UST to invest $100,000 in St. Paul campus neighborhood

March 11, 2016 / By: Amy Gage

Ask neighbors what they most value about the Merriam Park and Macalester-Groveland neighborhoods surrounding the St. Paul campus and they'll talk about safety, tranquility and historic homes that are growing in value.

To help ensure stability and safety in the neighborhood, the University of St. Thomas -- in conjunction with the West Summit Neighborhood Advisory Committee (WSNAC) -- has agreed to invest $100,000 into the neighborhood.

The money will be divided between two primary projects:

1) Neighborhood Stabilization Fund: A total of $60,000 will go toward keeping encroachment of student rentals at bay.

  • $50,000 will be used to convert at least three parent-owned houses to owner-occupied, single-family status with restrictive covenants placed on the homes so they cannot be used as rental properties for 30 years (2137 Selby was converted in December 2015, and 2017 Dayton was converted in March 2016);
  • $10,000 will be devoted to reimbursing legal fees for owner-occupants of single-family homes in the neighborhood to put restrictive covenants on their houses; those homes then cannot be used as rentals for 30 years.

2) Street lighting: $40,000 will enable St. Thomas to carry out projects that improve lighting on streets bordering the St. Paul campus for the safety and security of students, residents, guests and employees. Lighting already has been enhanced at the crosswalk on Summit just east of Finn, and more pedestrian-friendly lighting will be completed this summer along Cleveland Avenue on the east side of campus.

St. Thomas and WSNAC finalized the two-part investment in December 2014 in exchange for WSNAC agreeing to support a three-year extension of the parking lot behind McNeely Hall, at Grand and Cleveland avenues. The City of Saint Paul approved that extension in January 2015.

The city's approval comes with one key condition: As of March 2018, UST must convert the lot to grass and landscaping or use it as a site for student housing. The university is in the early stages of a campus master space planning process with the St. Louis-based firm Hastings+Chivetta.

Free parking: As part of its agreement with WSNAC, St. Thomas is now offering 15 lot spaces for free parking for Davanni’s and Coffee Bene customers and staff, from 5 p.m. to midnight weekdays and 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday.

"This reduces neighborhood traffic and illegal parking in permit parking zones and elsewhere," says Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations, who brought the idea of free customer parking to Davanni's.

In addition to paid parking for faculty, staff and students, the 31-space McNeely Hall lot also houses one of two HourCars on campus.