Preserve Frogtown

Preserve Frogtown is a partnership between Historic Saint Paul (HSP) and Frogtown Neighborhood Association (FNA) to honor and celebrate the rich cultural and architectural heritage of this working class neighborhood.

Preserve Frogtown implements preservation-based strategies to promote the Frogtown neighborhood, enhance community stabilization and development activity, and advance the economic and personal growth of Frogtown community members through housing initiatives and creative community building strategies.

Primary aspects of Preserve Frogtown activity are to:

•Improve properties that reflect and enhance the neighborhood’s character, improve and retain affordable housing, and promote neighborhood identity, stability and revitalization.

•Bring people together in relationship with a common goal of strengthening Frogtown by capitalizing on the value of its physical, cultural, and creative capital for the benefit of current and future residents.

•Build strong leadership across cultural and income differences for preserving and honoring culturally significant stories through the preservation of the physical environment.

Preserve Frogtown began as potential partners discussed how information gathered through the 2011 Saint Paul Survey Project could promote preservation-based community revitalization in Frogtown. Early Preserve Frogtown discussions integrated information gained from in an intensive, 16 week community outreach effort conducted by Frogtown Neighborhood Association called “Frogtown Focus” during which time staff spoke directly with residents on their vision and goals for the neighborhood and its housing. This information informed Preserve Frogtown’s scope, focus, and direction. The Preserve Frogtown initiative has grown to include additional partners, including the Land Bank, Springboard for the Arts and their Irrigate project, and other nonprofit and for-profit developers.

In 2012 Preserve Frogtown members participated in facilitated workshops to identify vision and goals. Issues and opportunities explored during these workshops included:

•The current housing situation in Frogtown – conditions, stock, character, market, available tools/strategies/development models

•The need to identify new models of development and secure more flexible resources to promote home improvements

•The need to “broaden the reach” of investments/improvements beyond individual homes to include more properties along distressed blocks and clusters

•The importance of developing understanding of the unique history and character of Frogtown and promoting cross-cultural participation in efforts to incorporate them into community building efforts among Frogtown residents

•The unique moment in the market – property values are weak but improving, it is anticipated that the economy improves and light rail is activated values could increase quickly.

The key priorities identified in this process informed and are reflected in Preserve Frogtown’s goals, objectives, and activities.

Goal:
To contribute to the renewal of Frogtown for the benefit of its residents by preserving and improving vulnerable properties and promoting activities which reflect and celebrate its unique culture, character, and heritage.

Objectives:

•Implement an alternative property development model – supported through expanded resources – to address single and small multi-family properties with cultural and historic significance in Frogtown.

•Leverage existing home improvement resources in a coordinated and intentional way. Promote improvements through focused partnerships that transform blocks – spreading out the reach and impact of investments by supporting incremental improvements into several properties vs. intense investments into single properties.

•Reframe the traditional “historic preservation” discussion to include culturally significant structures that honor and protect the stories and history of working class neighborhoods and people.

•Increase awareness and understanding of the cultural and historic significance of the neighborhood and integrate its story into cross-cultural community building and affirmative marketing activities.

•Capitalize on the special “market moment” to re-invigorate the neighborhood for the long-tem benefit of its residents offering them the opportunity to capture equity and build wealth as the market improves.