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.
“This is something we’ve been trying to cross the finish line on for a couple years now, so it’s exciting to finally get to vote on it today … and hopefully get this completed before the snow flies,” Brendmoen said.
Of the loan, about $230,000 will be transferred from a Commercial Vitality Zone initiative that was initially intended to back grant-funded private projects at the intersection of Como, Front and Dale streets. Even after several years, those grants found few takers.
HAMERNICK’S OPENS NEW FLOORING SUPERSTORE
A half-mile south of Rice/Larpenteur, Hamernick’s Interior Solutions has opened a new superstore at 1392 North Rice St., across the street from its existing design showroom. A written announcement for the Oct. 1 grand opening celebration says the superstore will feature the largest selection of in-stock waterproof luxury vinyl tile and plank flooring in Minnesota.
The superstore replaces the decade-old mill direct warehouse, which stocked carpeting and flooring. The warehouse has moved to Roseville.
“We’re expanding,” said Amy Mauzy, marketing director for Hamernick’s. “It’s great. We’re doing better than ever. People are home, looking at their floors, and they want to replace them.”
For Saturday’s “Rice and LarpenTOUR,” the event hub will be the MyThrift Store parking lot, 1657 Rice St., where Wilebski’s Blues Saloon will host a walk-by concert.
Also on tap at that location is a mobile gaming truck, free samples from La Delicious Bread, Hearthside Pizza and the Thai Street Market, and a public art project led by sculpturist Chloe Rizzo.
Other offerings include:
- Roseville Church of Christ (241 Larpenteur Ave. W.) will host a cappella music and hand painting, as well as food sales.
- The Maplewood Shops (1700 Rice St.) will feature give-aways from Cub Foods and Maplewood Public Safety, as well as free samples from Caribou Coffee and Nepali Kitchen.
- The Lake McCarrons County Park (1795 Rice St.) will host a public art project led by Shakuntala Designs.
- The Galilee Lutheran Church (145 N McCarrons Blvd.) will offer snacks and children’s activities.
- Hand In Hand Christian Montessori (211 N McCarrons Blvd.) will offer family activities and school and childcare center tours.
- The Rice Street Gardens/McCarrons Pub (1958-1986 Rice St.) will host garden Bingo and free pub samples.
More information is online at riceandlarpenteur.com.