8-80 Vitality Fund invests $42.5M in projects to make Saint Paul a thriving place for all

August 5, 2015

By Nora Riemenschneider, Economic Development Program Coordinator, City of Saint Paul


Inspired by the work of 8-80 Cities, St. Paul’s 8-80 Vitality Fund is a city-wide investment that promotes economic development through connecting residents and visitors with the city, enhances walking and bicycling, and creates great public spaces. The name “8-80” refers to the idea that the city environment should be safe, invigorating and welcoming for people from ages 8 to 80.  

Up to 15 significant infrastructure and public space improvement projects will be funded by the $42.5 million 8-80 Vitality Fund including a slate of street improvements, public space and other projects.  The projects are being implemented by interdepartmental teams including Public Works, Planning and Economic Development, Parks and Recreation, and several of these projects involve significant community engagement. In the long term, the initiative aims to embed the vision of economic development through livability within the City’s projects, programs and policies.

These projects are all slated to be completed by the end of 2017.  Projects officially approved by the City Council along the Green Line include:

Dickerman Park ($2 million)
Along the north side of University Avenue between Fairview Avenue and Aldine Street, the 2.4-acre Dickerman Park has been used as open space since the Dickerman Family donated the land in 1909. The 8-80 Vitality Fund will help pay for the development of a practical design, including new walkways, plaza spaces, planting areas, and possible water features. When complete, the park will welcome residents, businesses, and visitors – and make the Green Line greener.

Little Mekong Plaza ($300,000)
The 8-80 Vitality Fund includes supporting the demolition of an unusable building at Western Avenue North along University Avenue and creation of a new, vibrant, privately-owned public plaza. The plaza will be built to host a variety of public events, including the popular Little Mekong Night Market and serve as an open space for residents and visitors.

North Snelling Ave ($525,000)
In coordination with MnDOT, road improvements are currently under construction on North Snelling Avenue.  The funding will improve the walking experience along the Snelling corridor between Selby Ave and Pierce Butler Rte.  The project will include reconstructing sidewalks, improving tree growing environments, widening boulevards, adding lantern lighting, and creating landscaped medians.

Grand Round ($13.2 million)
The Saint Paul Grand Round is a unique asset envisioned more than 125 years ago by noted landscape architect Horace Cleveland, who pioneered the park and parkway system of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The northern segment of the Grand Round will be designed with off-street and pedestrian facilities. Pelham Blvd, which will connect to the Raymond Ave Station Area of the Green Line, is one segment of the trail system that will be built out with funds, all including road reconstruction to allow for the bikeways.

Downtown Projects
The 8-80 Vitality Fund also includes the redevelopment of the Palace Theatre ($8 million) in downtown St. Paul into a useable contemporary music venue, as well as the Downtown Bicycle Planning Study ($8.45 million) to create a downtown bike network, and the envisioning and design of the River Balcony, a pedestrian path that will extend along the downtown river bluff.

We look forward to seeing the community connect in these reinvigorated spaces and continue to incorporate the inclusive visioning inspired by the 8-80 Cities program in other parts of the city.