St. Paul Forever Challenge asks for $1 million ideas to improve the city

St. Paul Forever Challenge

UPDATE, August 2013: The three finalists in the St. Paul Forever Challenge have been named. Minnesota residents can vote on their favorite idea from now through September 2, 2013.

The finalists are:

  • The St. Paul Art Train will turn refurbished rail cars into art and business workspaces, which will be available for rent. Entrant: Craig Blakely
  • The St. Paul Center for Creative Arts will create a learning space for young people, who will stop by to practice everything "from pottery to boatbuilding to robotics." Entrant: Jack Ray
  • The Urban Oasis will use the local food movement as a catalyst for cooking classes, food trucks and other dining options at a food hub housed in the Bruno Vento Nature Sanctuary. Entrant: Tracy Sides

April 2013: The St. Paul Forever Challenge reached its deadline earlier this month, as a total of more than 900 ideas were submitted on $1 million projects that would improve the city. The St. Paul Foundation is sponsoring the event, and will honor the winner with $1,000 in prize money, as well as the $1 million grant to ensure the implementation of their idea.

Those who buy a home in St. Paul in the next few years may find that the city will soon feature a water trolley system, a fishing museum, or a treehouse resort. Judges for the St. Paul Challenge will have a difficult time choosing a winner out of the creative, innovative entries that were submitted this spring. Some think the winning project should be meant for those who live in the city, while others think the project should draw in visitors.

"Despite its cultural amenities, St. Paul is not exactly known as a weekend getaway," said Guy Egger, current affair editor of Thirty Two Magazine One. "One simple idea could change all that: an urban nature resort smack in the middle of the city. Providing a unique adventure, America's first urban treehouse resort would welcome visitors and residents in the wooded areas at the shore of the Mississippi, just a stone's throw away from all that St. Paul has to offer."

Other popular ideas were to revamp the former Ramsey County Jail, which overlooks the Mississippi River. One entry said the jail should be transitioned into a homeless shelter or hostel, while another envisioned "Disaster City," a location providing shelter for people hit by storms in the area.

Submissions closed on April 3, and judges will determine three finalists this summer. Voting for the winner will take place at the State Fair in August. For the most up-to-date information on the St. Paul Forever Challenge, check out their website.

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