The Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) area retains deep roots in its industrial heritage, yet in tandem with the introduction of the METRO Green Line LRT, is evolving to embrace the introduction of a new more creative mix of uses while retaining a core industrial backbone.
The area’s future is driven by the impetus of at least two critical organizations.
The vision for the Creative Enterprise Zone is supported by an independent non-profit support organization of the same name. The CEZ carries forward a mission of making the area a “livable, mixed-use neighborhood, recognized and sustained as a center of enterprise and creativity.” The Saint Paul Port Authority, a division of local government, guides the future within three of its business centers that together form the industrial backbone of the area.
The CEZ is situated not just midway between downtown Saint Paul and downtown Minneapolis, but also situated midway between the two nearly adjacent campuses of the University of Minnesota. Blessed with an abundance of transportation, the area has long been an industrial hub. Leveraged carefully, Opportunity Zone financing can play a constructive role in writing the next chapter in the area’s continuing evolution.
- The area is home to a rich legacy of transportation access. Halfway between downtown Saint Paul and downtown Minneapolis, highways and METRO Green Line light rail provides unparalleled access to a wide regional workforce. Moreover, freight rail, direct access to Interstate 94 and Minnesota 280, and the BNSF Midway Intermodal Yards are wrapped up in the heart of the district’s unique core advantages.
- The Saint Paul Port Authority actively coordinates commercial and industrial redevelopment by supporting three robust business centers at the heart of the area: the Westgate (generally west of MN 280 near University Avenue), the West Midway (generally east of MN 280 near University Avenue), and Energy Park (straddling Energy Park Drive through the north end of the focus area), home to tenants from Tierney Brothers interactive technology to the biotech industry, anchored by the University Enterprise Laboratories, drawing on its proximity to the Minneapolis and the Saint Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.
- A variety of new creative industrial reuses have taken shape in or adjacent to the CEZ, including live and co-working opportunities guid482, unique entertainment at Can Can Wonderland and a model hub of creativity in Vandalia Tower.
- The area has proven a robust residential market adjacent to the University Avenue LRT corridor, including Emerald Gardens, micro-units at the Ray, student-focused residences such as the Pavillion on Berry, luxury housing at the Lyric, affordable artist housing at Carelton Place Lofts, and new construction centered on a public green at Millberry Apartments.