With Payne Ave. picking up steam, it begs the question: what about Arcade Street?

With Payne Avenue experiencing a bit of a renaissance in the past few years, Arcade Street seems to be taking a backseat -- the street, just a few blocks east of Payne, remains mostly unchanged. (Patrick Larkin/Review)
Payne Avenue has seen a lot of transformation over the past year. 
With Plaza Del Sol, Cook St. Paul, Schweitz Saloon, Xtravagant Events and Xtravagant Sweets, and Tongue in Cheek all coming in, the old Accurat Electric building getting demolished across the street from Ward 6 restaurant, and the Arlington Hills Community Center buzzing, the corridor seems to have gained a lot of life in a short amount of time.
But meanwhile, its neighboring commercial corridor, Arcade Street, has seen virtually no changes in the past year, which begs the question: what's different?
According to John Vaughn, director of the East Side Neighborhood Development Company, there's not a simple answer, although there are factors to consider.
For one, he said, Arcade "doesn't present as a consolidated, 'Main Street' commercial district.
"Building frontages are gap-toothed," he explained, and the street tends to be more of a "drive-through corridor" -- it's got higher traffic counts and the street is wider than Payne.
Tim Herman, director of the East Side Area Business Association, said that historically, Arcade has been a little quieter and more spread out than Payne.
David Benshoof, owner of the Josephine building at 1140 Arcade St., has spent 60 years on the East Side, and owned about 30 properties up and down Payne and Arcade.
"Arcade Street is more an extension of Highway 61, more of a through-way," he said, "even though it's commercial from Maryland on down."
He recalled when Arcade used to conclude along a manufacturing corridor, with places like 3M, Whirlpool and the Hamm's Brewery.
According to the St. Paul Public Works Department, Arcade sees twice the daily traffic Payne does. 
Average traffic on Payne from Minnehaha Avenue to Wheelock Parkway is 6,225 vehicles per day, while on Arcade from East Seventh Street to Wheelock Parkway it's 12,875 vehicles.
Recent Payne bolstering
Patty Lilledahl, director of housing for St. Paul, said that Payne has had more recent infrastructure improvements -- the sidewalks, streets and lighting fixtures have all been redone.
In addition, city investment in the new Arlington Hills Community Center and Kendall's Ace Hardware have helped bolster Payne. Kendall's, along with the senior housing complex across the street at Payne and Phalen Boulevard, anchors the south end of the street, Lilledahl said.
The city is also working on developing additional off-street parking to the neighborhood, specifically on Wells Street just west of Payne. 
Three corridors in one area
Dan Bayers, principal project manager for the city's Planning and Economic Development Department, also noted that the city identified Payne as a particularly walkable commercial corridor. 
In certain spots, such as at Arcade and Case, Arcade has a similar vibe to Payne's commercial corridor, Bayers noted. But still, Arcade is more spread out, with more houses in between commercial buildings, and strip mall type developments at Arcade and Phalen, where Cub Foods (formerly Rainbow Foods) is located. 
"The feel of the two streets are a little different," he said.
Bayers also noted that the East Side is a bit unusual, in that it has several major commercial corridors -- East Seventh Street, Payne, Arcade and to a lesser extent White Bear Avenue.
Whether the area can feasibly sustain all of them "has always been a question," Bayers said.
Inspiring Communities
Lilledahl said that the city's recent initiative to fill in vacant residential lots ended up focusing more on the Payne corridor than Arcade. 
The city included 99 parcels, mostly in an area bound by Phalen Boulevard, Hawthorne Avenue, Edgerton Street and Arcade Street.
The bulk of commercial development along Payne is smack dab in the middle of those boundaries.
Still, Lilledahl said, the Inspiring Communities initiative has brought a lot of residential development within range of Arcade.
Payne rennaissance?
"If somebody comes up with a good solution for Arcade, I'd like to get to work on it," Vaughn said.
He predicted that Payne is likely to continue to see a renaissance of sorts. "It's not that far from being kind of trendy."
That, in turn, could attract more people to move into the neighborhood, and spill over to benefit Arcade Street, he said.
Whether that occurs, and what it would mean for the character and the demographics of the neighborhood remain unseen, but Vaughn did point out that there is a bit of redevelopment happening on Arcade.
For one, there's a new commercial building that's going up -- it's being built "on spec" at the northeast corner of Maryland Avenue and Arcade. 
And up near where Arcade meets Wheelock Parkway, the Josephine building is re-populating, Vaughn said.
On the south end of Arcade, St. Paul Port Authority properties are beginning to come to life, and could offer new job centers on the corridor.
And Herman added that the American Legion Post on Arcade recently received city funding to spiff up its facade and make interior improvements.
"When those things kind of start happening more, I think that's going to jump start a bunch of development opportunities," Herman said. 
Contact Patrick Larkin at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ESRPatrickLark.
Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here