Rice and LarpenTOUR showcases St. Paul, Roseville and Maplewood

On paper, the intersection of Rice Street and Larpenteur Avenue forms the gateway to St. Paul, Roseville and Maplewood, a three-way border that one might expect to yield significant investment.

In reality, civic leaders have for years called the intersection sparse and neglected. It’s also not immune to crime, including the fatal shooting of 23-year-old cosmetologist Nia Black outside the Lamplighter Lounge on June 13.

Nevertheless, members of the Rice and Larpenteur Alliance say they’ve seen signs of progress near the intersection, and along the Rice Street business corridor.

In an effort to improve the intersection’s image, the government and business alliance this Saturday will host the “Rice and LarpenTOUR,” a four-hour outdoor showcase that focuses on emerging and longstanding businesses and cultural offerings.

From 3 to 7 p.m. Saturday, guests at the “Rice and LarpenTOUR” will receive an event “passport” for self-guided stops in the three cities, including free food samples and live music. All events will be outdoors, and masks are strongly encouraged. Sanitation stations will be provided.

COMMERCIAL VITALITY ZONE PROJECT

Also on the horizon: pedestrian-friendly improvements.

Along the southwest corner of the intersection, a new project backed by a forgivable loan from St. Paul’s Commercial Vitality Zone program will soon fund long-awaited sidewalks along Rice Street and pedestrian-friendly changes in the strip mall parking lot egress.

The $338,000 loan, which does not have to be paid back if the project is completed and maintained by the same owners for five years, will also fund a parklet gathering space, a mill and overlay of the parking lot itself and minor landscaping.

Property owner M.E.K. Properties Limited Partnership will contribute $50,000 toward new lighting.

Leading into the St. Paul City Council’s 6-0 vote to approve the loan on Wednesday, St. Paul City Council President Amy Brendmoen called the lack of sidewalks at the location a travesty that will soon be corrected.

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