Capitol Area Community Vitality Account (+ Task Force)
Minnesota legislators have established a task force + account in support of community vitality.
This investment by the Minnesota Legislature is a unique development in the history of the Capitol Area. In late May, legislators passed provision creating a Task Force to guide the use of a $5M Capitol Area Community Vitality (CACV) Account. The action was one of three investments in the Capitol Area that complement the planned expansion of the State Office Building. Investments in Rice Street ($25 M) and the Capitol Mall ($6M) are both dedicated to the planning and design of improvements to physical infrastructure. The CACV Account was created to more broadly address community and economic vitality in the Capitol Area. See the full staff memo
Highlights of the CACV legislation* include:
- an eleven member appointed task force will begin meeting this summer
- planning funds ($150K) have been provided for consultant expertise to implement a prioritization
- process guided by the task force, supported/supervised by CAAPB staff
- task force will issue recommendations in a report due to CAAPB for approval in early 2024
- $5M account established by the State of Minnesota) to fund community vitality projects and initiatives
(*See the full text of the legislation included under the toggle "Enabling Legislation-Chapter 53 SF3035 - CACV" below.)
Task Force Members
2023 legislation - Chapter 53 SF3035 directs:
"The task force consists of the following members:
(1) the Executive Secretary of the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board;
Erik Cedarleaf Dahl
(2) one member of the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board, appointed by the board;
(3) two members of the house of representatives appointed by the speaker of the house, of whom one must be a member of the majority caucus of the house, and one must be a member of the minority caucus of the house;
Majority member: Representative Samakab Hussein
Minority member: Representative Isaac Schultz
(4) two members of the senate appointed by the majority leader of the senate, of whom one must be a member of the majority caucus of the senate, and one must be a member of the minority caucus of the senate;
Majority member: Senator Sandy Pappas
Minority member: Senator Julia E. Coleman
(5) four members who are residents, businesspeople, or members of local organizations in the Capitol Area, appointed by the mayor of St. Paul; and
(6) one member of the public appointed by the governor."
Representative Maria Isa
Policy starting points
Beyond CAAPB approval of task force recommendations, there are very few strings attached to this funding. This is an opportunity to prioritize community projects based on community values. Fortunately, Capitol Area has completed several community planning processes in the last five years that form a complete set of public policy documents and programs. These lay groundwork (starting points) for the CACV Task Force work, identifying issues and opportunities that have been recently adopted:
2019 - Frogtown Neighborhood Small Area Plan (SMaPL!) -
) This plan adopted in 2019 is, “…an urban planning document that envisions how we, the community, would like Frogtown to evolve over the course of the next decade and beyond. …”; “…put together by our Neighborhood District Council—The Frogtown Neighborhood Association—and their board members, Frogtown community members, St. Paul City Planner, Tony Johnson, and Mychal Batson, a very dedicated local artist….”
2017‐19 - Lower Rice Street Commercial Vitality Zone (CVZ) Strategy and Building Upgrade Fund
– (See the full report
) Through a community‐based process administered through partnership of City of St Paul and CAAPB, this (state funded) City of St Paul program enabled development of the Lower Rice Street CVZ Strategy and subsequent Building Upgrade Fund ($350K) that distributed over a dozen grants to small businesses in the Capitol Area along Rice Street.
2020 - City of Saint Paul Comprehensive Plan (Saint Paul For All) -
) “The 2040 Comprehensive Plan is Saint Paul’s “blueprint” for guiding development in the city over the next 20 years. Saint Paul is a community that is welcoming to and a place of opportunity for people of all incomes, ages, races, ethnicities, and abilities. It accomplishes this by addressing the place‐based dimensions of our neighborhoods: embracing growth; offering a wide range of housing choices for its diverse residents; providing a transportation system that meets the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, riders and drivers; preserving, celebrating and building on our histories; and supporting infill development that sensitively accommodates a growing, aging and increasingly diverse population. Saint Paul is defined and enhanced by its location on the Mississippi River ‐ an economic, environmental, cultural, historic and recreational amenity that enriches our quality of life and economic prosperity.”
2021 - 2040 Comprehensive Plan for the Minnesota State Capitol Area
) “The 2040 Comprehensive Plan for the Minnesota State Capitol Area is organized by a set of aspirational outcomes called The Capitol Area Principles …”, “…developed through extensive review of existing policy, various planning tracks and studies, and interaction with stakeholder groups. The Capitol Area Principles anchor the policy that serves to guide the CAAPB in transforming the Capitol Area into a complete and healthy community with vibrant public spaces, a range of movement options, a diverse mix of land uses, and attractive buildings framing lively, pedestrian‐friendly streets. They are designed to reinforce the visual pre‐eminence of the Capitol Building, maintain the Capitol Campus as a visitor destination, preserve its component neighborhoods as vibrant urban villages, acknowledge the inherently productive nature of community building and neighborhood interdependence, and produce a clear direction for a future in tune with Saint Paul’s aspirations.”
Looking through the holistic lens
The CAAPB has identified a responsibility to be sensitive to those who are impacted most by changes in their community. The 2040 Comprehensive Plan for the Minnesota State Capitol Area begins and ends with strong imperative that before we make decisions ‐ that we strive to understand our community, be sensitive to context and to consider opportunities for innovation. This task force is a chance to put this policy into practice.
A unique community placed at the crossroads, the Capitol Area is poised for change
The Capitol Area, in particular, the Capitol Rice district (see attached map) has a unique history north of the downtown core as a crossroads of so many cultural, governmental, transportation and economic systems. It is high ground, and for some a sacred land. For some a place of commerce, some a place of work, and some a place to speak out together. This is home to state government. Since the beginning of Saint Paul this has been a place for new immigrant workers. The Capitol Area is where the street grid shifts, the riverway bends and the interstates come together. The community has always been an arrival and gateway to and from parks, farms and countryside ‐ and now the many evolving neighborhoods, to the north and west. There is a reason that most of our regional hospital systems have placed major facilities in or near the district.
There is an opportunity (yet unmet) to look together at that history, and to account for all the members of the Capitol Area family as each new investment occurs. For instance, there are many unsheltered that receive services here. There are families that work on campus or downtown. And we know from our community history, 4 of 5 without awareness, resolve and proactive measures some of those who are investing here might be unwillingly displaced (forced to leave or worse yet, abandon their efforts) once new investment changes the costs of living or the cost of running a business.
The recent pattern of new public and private investments bring new changes to the Capitol Area.
- 2016: new Senate Office Building
- 2017: new shopfront medical office building (dialysis clinic at 586 Rice)
- 2017: Capitol Building Restoration completed
- 2018: new micro‐unit apartment building and parking ramp renovations (590 Park)
- 2020‐22: Capitol Mall commemorative works updates & new Minnesota Medal of Honor Memorial
- 2022: new K‐12 public charter school (St Paul City School at University and Marion)
- 2023: new behavioral health hospital by Fairview+Acadia (@ former Bethesda site)
- under construction: Metro B Line BRT (Lake St – Marshall – John Ireland – Kellogg – Downtown)
- Ongoing: increasing residential renovations, conversions in Capitol Rice district and Capitol Heights nbhd
- funded, in design: extension of Capitol City Bikeway (dedicated bikeway over interstate to John Ireland)
- in planning: John Ireland Bridge reconstruction
- in planning: Metro Purple Line BRT (Bus Rapid Transit)
- funded, planning starting: Rice Street redesign and reconstruction
- funded, planning starting: Capitol Mall projects (guided by Capitol Mall Design Framework)
- planned, not yet funded: Jackson Street reconstruction
- near future: urban village redevelopment of former Sears site