Gazing into the Central Corridor crystal ball

ISAIAH, the interfaith advocacy group, and a coalition of nearly two dozen community organizations, have been analyzing what life is like along Central Corridor, aka University and Washington Avenues in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Their results help paint a picture of what life may be like when the light rail line is running.

Their findings raise interesting questions: 86 percent of the enterprises along the corridor are small businesses, collectively employing more than 4,000 people. Do those businesses have the resilience to survive light rail construction and the loss of 1,000 on- street parking spaces?

Their study finds that the educational attainment of people living on and near Central Corridor is slightly less than the rest of the Twin Cities, that the diversity rate is higher, that a fourth of the residents don't have a personal vehicle. How will the rail line affect their education, job and earnings prospects?

One of the most interesting findings is that gentrification of the area has already begun, it started a decade ago. Housing costs are on the rise, and in fact, the study finds that some of the poorer residents are paying as much as half their income or more for shelter.

Among the recommendations: Government should make plans now for preserving and creating affordable housing, rezoning of property should be done with utmost care to preserve housing and business opportunities for the people living there.

All of the findings will be on the table at a community meeting Saturday morning, March 5, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer on Dale street North in St. Paul.

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