Unsung Hero: Central Corridor Resource Center spurred successful collaboration and built community power

March 24, 2016

Panorama of model 01

From 2006 to 2014, the Central Corridor Resource Center (CCRC) provided a makeshift space where stakeholders could gather, envision, and strategize around common goals that emerged as a result of the Green Line light rail.  The CCRC quickly became more than a logistical convenience but an “unsung hero” of work along the Green Line.

Located in the city-owned, former Lexington library at 1080 University Avenue, the CCRC was home to the District Councils Collaborative of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (DCC) and dozens of posters, renderings, and plans for development along the Green Line.

Carol Swenson, Executive Director of the DCC recalled that “community organizations that were engaged in Central Corridor issues developed a sense of ownership over the space and used it as a place where they expressed collective power. When the community wanted to meet on their “ground,” they chose the CCRC.   Swenson continues, “The space stood for principles of environmental justice, equity, authentic and meaningful community engagement, and community-led processes. The CCRC was the place where the many communities and community organizations in both Minneapolis and St Paul figured out and defined what it meant to be connected to each other in a way they hadn’t before.”

The CCRC was invaluable for the community planning process because it allowed stakeholders to have a consistent and transit-accessible space.  It also allowed stakeholders to leave materials that could be displayed after meetings concluded.  Donna Drummond, Director of Planning at the City of Saint Paul, reflected that the space allowed the city to share and display all of the station area plans – in 3-D form, which would never have been possible without this space.  She fondly recalls, “I’ll never forget how the model captured people’s imaginations in a way that a two-dimensional paper plan never could.  There were a number of times when I was asked to give “tours” of the model – my favorite memory – even to developers.”

The Central Corridor development model played a more central role than originally intended.  Swenson noted that the model “was critical in helping then-Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff understand the Three Stations issue, validating the Gordon Parks High School students’ idea to create Three Ring Gardens (aka Griggs Park), and helping residents of Skyline Tower conceptualize the new development that they would like in their station area (at Hamline).”

In reflection, Drummond shared, “By having our own space, it sent the message to everyone that we were engaged in something really important.”