Central Corridor residents have lower incomes, higher unemployment, and pay a higher proportion of their income for housing costs, according to a set of studies released by the Healthy Corridors for All coalition on March 5. The studies explored the effect of city plans for rezoning and redevelopment along the Central Corridor route on residents.
Among the key findings of the Health Impact Assessment [see attached PDF] are:
- Over 60% of all the jobs in St. Paul are located on the Central Corridor (CC).
- Approximately 21% of all workers in St. Paul, and 11% of all workers in Ramsey County live in the CC, yet only 6% of the jobs in the CC are filled by CC residents.
- That 6% of CC residents who work in the area are likely to make under $14,000 per year.
- Unemployment among CC residents is 9.9% (vs. 7.6% in the county), and 37% of CC households earn less than 150% of the poverty line for a family of three.
- 45% of CC households pay more than 30% of their income on housing (up from 33% of households in 2000). Rapid gentrification threatens to force them from their homes.
One index of gentrification along the Central Corridor is the increase in home values in the area, which have risen 77 percent in the past decade, “significantly higher than City and County increases.”
The coalition, which includes ISAIAH, Take Action Minnesota, PolicyLink, and 22 other organizations, is also concerned about the impact of Central Corridor LRT development on businesses in the area. According to the report:
Using data compiled by U-PLAN in 2010, we found there to be 1,068 businesses, non-profit organizations and governmental organizations along University Avenue and one block north and south of University Avenue along the St. Paul Corridor with the exclusion of the Downtown sub-market where data is unavailable. Together, these organizations employ 14,898 people. … 83% of all organizations along the Corridor are small businesses. These businesses account for nearly a third (30%) of all employees in University Avenue businesses, with a total of 4,406 employees. Fifteen percent (128) of all businesses are minority-owned.
Small businesses and minority-owned businesses in the Central Corridor are likely to be particularly vulnerable to the challenges of higher rents or property values, higher property taxes, elimination of much of the currently available customer parking, and the strain of prolonged construction restricting ready access to their businesses.
While the overall percentage of minority-owned businesses may see relatively small, they are concentrated in the eastern section, between Lexington and Rice in St. Paul, where 87% of the businesses are minority-owned.
What’s next? The coalition makes a number of recommendations for consideration in the rezoning process, but zoning is not going to do the whole job. Another area of concern is “mitigation”—the steps taken to moderate the impact of construction on businesses. In January, a federal judge ruled that the 2,000-page environmental impact statement for the project failed to address the issue of loss of business income as a result of the LRT construction. The Met Council has now released a supplemental environmental assessment, and will hold hearings on March 16:
A public comment period has been established for this document. Comments may be submitted in writing or in person at public hearings scheduled for Wednesday, March 16, 2011. Two hearings will be held that day, one starting at 8:00 am at the Lao Family Community of Minnesota (second-floor conference room, 320 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN, 55103) and one starting at 6:00 pm at Goodwill / Easter Seals (553 Fairview Ave. N., St. Paul, MN, 55104).