Letter: South St. Anthony rezoning is detriment to area businesses

I have owned Salongeorge at 856 Raymond Ave. in South St. Anthony Park for 13 years. I am also part of the George family that own George’s Shoe Repair and Hockey on Grand Avenue and George’s Shoes and Repair in Arden Hills and Stillwater. Our family has been a part of St. Paul history for over 100 years.

I need help to save my business and the other businesses in our area. I have been dealing with the city and neighborhood for many years with the parking shortage in South St. Anthony Park. Raymond Avenue was reconstructed several years ago and as a result we lost parking on one side of the street for bike lanes. On the side roads, like Bradford, Ellis, and Long, we have lost parking due to re-configuring the corners to slow down traffic on Raymond.

Now, we are due to lose the rest of our parking because of a development of condos being built directly next door and behind my business condo building, which includes five small businesses.

Our area is changing from neighborhood residential and early turn-of-the-century buildings to over-developed high-rise condo buildings. We are just outside the light-rail transit zone, just north of Territorial Avenue; yet the St. Paul Zoning Committee has recommended to the City Council to approve a T2 to T3 zoning change, even though T2 is mixed use and more in scale with the neighboring buildings. They have also approved rezoning to the Baker East building, directly across the street from us, to a T3, as well.

With all of this rezoning in our area, we are looking at a deficit of parking and a detriment to our small businesses. These new buildings will be approximately five to six stories, 55 feet high and more than 20 feet higher than the current houses and buildings.

Here’s the kicker: We, the 856 Raymond owners, did not receive a rezoning postcard before either of these projects went before the Zoning Committee. I have talked with my neighbors and many did not know about the scale of this project at 2330 Long Ave., nor were they informed about the Baker East rezoning.

At what cost does St. Paul push out the small businesses, women-run businesses, immigrant businesses? I am all three.

The St. Anthony Park neighborhood does not know what is coming. My fellow business owners and I oppose the scale of these developments, not the overall development, itself. We realize there is a need for housing, however, the developer has asked to rezone to build higher and denser than our neighborhood can handle.

The developer plans to build two phases of condo buildings. The first includes nine luxury condos above the current building at 842 Raymond Ave., which has 20 offices, adding only five off-street parking spaces for that building project. In the second phase, the developer told the St. Paul Zoning Committee in April that he was building 50 micro units/condos at 2330 Long Ave. and needed a T3 zoning.

We are 10 feet or less from that property. This will cause a detriment of parking that will likely affect our small businesses and residents.

At what cost do we lose ethnic, women- and family-run businesses? I thought St. Paul was a melting pot of diversity, a family town. But not when developers with money show it to the city officials, then we are done.

Patty George, owner, Salongeorge

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