What We Want in Our Neighborhood
Monday, June 5, 2017 3:20 PM

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Como residents want local coffee shops and sit-down restaurants in our neighborhood, and wouldn’t mind a corner grocer and a taproom, either. Those are some of the conclusions from an online survey District 10 conducted earlier this year about residents’ views on neighborhood businesses.
The survey is one part of a research study conducted for District 10 by Sarah Arnold, a graduate student in urban and regional planning at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The research study focuses primarily on the Como-Snelling business district. It is the first piece in a larger project District 10 is leading to build the foundation for more amenities and economic investment in the neighborhood.

Drawing a blank
The Como-Snelling business district itself needs more businesses, a larger mix of businesses, and other improvements in order to attract more Como residents, their time, and their money, the survey results suggest.
The small district includes such businesses as Nelson Cheese and Deli, Thompson Flooring, Café 99, Shanghai Market, Beloved Studios, and Bliss Yoga. But the limited options limit how many residents frequent the area, and how often they do so, the survey shows. Fewer than half the 384 respondents say they have ever stepped foot in a Como-Snelling business. Fewer than 8 percent say they have done so more than 5 times.
Still, that makes Como-Snelling businesses more popular among survey respondents than businesses near Front and Lexington, or near Como, Front and Dale – which are two other business nodes in District 10. Overwhelming, survey respondents say, they conduct most of their business in Falcon Heights, Roseville, or elsewhere in Saint Paul.

Improvements that count
Arnold’s report covers traffic, parking, crime, zoning, and land ownership in the Como-Snelling area. Her report also suggests approaches beyond expansion that could increase the business district’s connection to potential customers. These include:

  • People-friendly public spaces
  • Façade and sign improvements
  • Establishing a community identity
  • Taking advantage of bicycle trails that are planned to connect to the intersection
  • Better marketing to neighborhood residents

For example, Arnold notes that many survey respondents don’t seem to know what businesses exist at Como-Snelling, or don’t even consider the area a business district. Yet all the current businesses near Como-Snelling are locally owned, which is one characteristic survey respondents overwhelmingly say they desire. The business district also includes a sit-down restaurant (Café 99), a carryout restaurant (Nelson Cheese), and a corner grocer (Shanghai Market); all are the types of businesses that survey respondents say they want. You can view the full survey results and Arnold's research report by downloading the PDFs in the right column.

District 10 Como Community Council | 1224 Lexington Pkwy N, Saint Paul, MN 55103 | 651.644.3889 | district10 [at] district10comopark.org

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