Macy's exit is a wakeup call

  • Article by: PAUL OLSON
  • Updated: January 8, 2013 - 7:33 PM

St. Paul needs to start dealing with the stark realities of a city that is not sustainable on its current downward trajectory.

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luxaeternaJan. 8, 13 7:54 PM

Great piece, and sadly true. It's going to be tough to turn the city around.

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soitbeginsJan. 8, 13 7:56 PM

The first thing is to make sure everybody in the city is treated equally. No more exempt property period. If taxes are going to be the method we use to pay for a "civilized community" then all parties must share the costs. The universities, churches and other institutions should understand that they have the same responsibilities as home owners and businesses to pay for the services they receive. Second, after the basics of public safety and infrastructure no more subsidized anything. It is obvious that any business or organization smart enough to be an asset would be able to analyze the benefits of a given subsidy to make sure they are a net winner from it. Most often this means the city will be paying out more than it will ever get back. These two things together should help create a stable and sustainable system which will be far more attractive than the constant flailing we see from politicians pretending they have ideas on how to "reinvigorate" the city. All of which alway have the Mae result decade after decade.

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FrankLJan. 8, 13 8:03 PM

Part of the problem is that cities like St Paul decide so many activities are nuisances that pretty soon the list of allowed businesses shrinks to nothing. Any business that creates noise, odors, vibrations, waste, truck traffic, etc have been slowly forced out of St Paul. So all you have left are some office buildings and quaint shops. Sorry, they don't pay the bills.

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bono4233Jan. 8, 13 8:59 PM

Have worked in downtown SP for the past 22 years. This piece is spot on. You don't build things hoping "they will come". It works the other way around.

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nosolicitJan. 8, 13 9:04 PM

I think that Mr. Olson, misses a very big point: the large department store is failing as a business model. Guess what Macy's is on a downward spiral nationally. The problem isn't that St. Paul can't support large old style department stores, because no one can, their day has passed. The businesses that can sustain the city, thrive on things like great telecom and network infrastructure, a highly educated workforce and a good living environment. Typically in older city centers, wiring things is very expensive. Putting in new transportation is a nightmare because it disrupts so many existing business and neighborhoods. Of course there is a tendency to rush out to the suburbs where it's much easier to wire. Funding businesses that are spinning round the drain like Macy's is a bad idea. St. Paul should be improving the ability of companies to operate inexpensively and with a wealth of educated mobile workers who are attracted to live in the city center. There is great value in making a city a great place to live. Government needs to fund the things that everyone needs to succeed but can't fund on their own.

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niemiojaJan. 8, 13 9:09 PM

Sometimes the government subsidies help and sometimes they don't. Just like most investments and businesses. As a person who has worked downtown for 12 years getting the Wild with the Xcel Energy Center is the best thing that ever happened to the capitol city. Thank goodness the lockout has ended and the small businesses can get the traffic back.

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mcjoe1Jan. 9, 13 1:12 AM

Maybe it's me, but I don't see many large companies interested in moving into downtown St. Paul. It seems like it could be more successful with high rise residences - especially if the old Macy's gets redeveloped as a downtown Lunds. Most of downtown St. Paul feels like a total ghost town outside of business hours. I think it'd be pretty sweet though to live next to the Xcel center and walk to hockey games and concerts. If they can liven up more areas of the city, it'd be eaiser to attract more businesses.

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longmemoryJan. 9, 13 6:47 AM

St Paul is not user friendly. I dread having to go there.

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briechersJan. 9, 13 7:40 AM

...Cities rise or fall on the basis of some economic reason for being, such as river transport, an ocean harbor, or having a population of educated, hardworking people. It takes civic leadership to transform such strategic advantages into economic advancement...I like this statement and I believe it can be useful to reflect on it as part of laying out a vision for the future.

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evldedJan. 9, 13 7:47 AM

I find that businesses and residents or St. Paul to be snobbish and protective. Many of them cannot face the reality that downtown St. Paul has less traffic and life on your average Saturday afternoon than downtown Bloomington. Don't believe me, St. Paulites? Just make the trek over on Saturday to any other city or suburb. St. Paul is just not a place that give an aura of fun, life or anything else for that matter. Spot on piece.

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