New Businesses, Development Flocks to the Creative Enterprise Zone

Work of Supporting Makers, Artists More important Than Ever 

September 25, 2014

By Kyle Mianulli, St. Anthony Park Community Council
 

Authentic. Creative. Retro. Historic. Small-town charm combined with a collaborative spirit. Small-town main street meets modern urban community.

These words and phrases have all been used to describe the Creative Enterprise Zone – the business area surrounding Raymond and University Avenues along the Green Line. Here, creative and industrial commerce thrive side-by-side and are celebrated.

The word is out about the Creative Enterprise Zone. During the past year, the idea of fostering and supporting creative activity in this area has really taken root. The artists, makers and entrepreneurs already here have embraced the emerging identity of the Creative Enterprise Zone as a destination where creative work (of all types) flourishes.

If you don’t know much about the Creative Enterprise Zone or haven’t had the opportunity to take a shopping tour along Raymond and University Avenues, this video encapsulates its vision. The video — featuring leaders, makers and visionaries working here and driving the creative renaissance in the area — was actually created by a group of videographers in the Zone.

Creative and entrepreneurial spirits shine here, old and new

The Green Line’s Raymond Station is the jumping off point for the neighborhood. On June 14 (the day Green Line trains ran for the first time), despite the unsavory weather, it was evident that the bonds, connections and relationships built through the planning of the Green Line Launch Celebration at Raymond Station would prove instrumental in solidifying the big picture idea of the Creative Enterprise Zone.

This magnetism is continuing to pull more and more creative businesses, artists and entrepreneurs to the area. Just in the last year, a surge of exciting new creative businesses have opened in the Zone. Junk Love, Workhorse Coffee Bar, Skon Chiropractic, and Lake Monster Brewing (just to name a few) illustrate the depth and breadth of businesses attracted to the area.

 

Early next year, the creative real estate company First & First will cut the ribbon at a new multi-structure “creative campus” in the heart of the Creative Enterprise Zone they are calling Vandalia Tower. It will be the innovative developer’s largest project to date and first foray into St. Paul.

The Creative Enterprise Zone team has worked closely with First & First to share our vision and protect the vital creative entrepreneurs already working in the space. At the same time working to attract exciting new talents and businesses like Lake Monster Brewing, which will open a new brewery, keg house and beer garden at the center of the campus. And, the Independent Film Maker Project, recently announced they will be relocating to Vandalia Tower from another space in the Creative Enterprise Zone as well.

We’re excited to see how this new creative hub grows as a potential focal point of the Creative Enterprise Zone, and are dedicated to continuing to make sure there are ample opportunities for a wide range of artists, makers, entrepreneurs and creatives of every type and ability here. This effort becomes vital as buzz around the Zone continues to build and demand for creative space—affordable and market rate—continues to grow.

Listening, planning with the community

Next year, we’ll host a new round of community listening and planning sessions to determine how to help shape future development efforts. By bringing together a range of businesses, developers, artists and makers, we hope to set a course that relies on the plethora of talent already here to ensure that the area maintains its creative vitality as it grows and develops to a nationally recognized hub of creative activity and commerce.

As interest in the area continues to grow, many here are eager to maintain the creative, local charm that has come to define it. The Creative Enterprise Zone's efforts appear to be aiding that notion in tangible ways, as are area developers and property owners who support the emerging identity and historic creative vibrancy that continues to flourish here.

Property Owner Brad Johnson, who owns three storefront properties along Raymond Avenue, recently said he’s seen a notable increase in the number of creative and entrepreneurial businesses expressing interest in his properties.

“We've noticed that we’re fielding more and more inquiries from professional but creative entrepreneurs and arts organizations,” Johnson said. “The branding work that [the Creative Enterprise Zone] has been doing lately seems definitely to have had an effect.”

 

Read more about the emerging Creative Enterprise Zone here:

A Raymond-University shopping tour, Park Bugle

First & First plans creative campus in St. Paul's Midway, The Line

Creative Enterprise Zone website: www.creativeenterprisezone.org