Construction of Swede Hollow overlook postponed until spring

courtesy of St. Paul Parks and Recreation • An overlook planned for the intersection of Payne Avenue and Bedford Street will look down onto Swede Hollow Park. It will include a viewfinder that will have historic images of Swede Hollow. Construction of the overlook was planned for this fall but is being postponed until spring.

While construction on an overlook near the Payne Avenue and Bedford Street intersection was planned to take place in this fall, the project has been postponed until spring.

According to a Nov. 22 update on the project’s St. Paul city webpage at, it was postponed because of consistently cold temperatures this fall. “The project is and will remain a priority for this next spring,” the update said.

Bryan Murphy, a landscape architect for St. Paul Parks and Recreation, said construction will begin in mid-April or early May 2018, depending on the weather, and will take about four weeks to complete. 

The project will cost $125,000 and include decorative paving, ornamental railings, benches, bike racks, trash and recycling containers, landscaping and a public art viewfinder, which was created by Railroad Island resident Crystal Passi. 

The spot looks into Swede Hollow Park and the viewfinder will include historic images of Swede Hollow, that will be overlayed as people look through it into the park. It will highlight other notable features of Swede Hollow as well, according to parks and recreation spokesperson Brad Meyer. 

The project was chosen by St. Paul’s Planning and Economic Development department in the spring of 2016 as a part of the city’s Commercial Vitality Zone program. 

The CVZ program is “funded by a $750,000 annual sales-tax revenue fund, created by a half-cent local sales tax that state law mandates be used to further residential, cultural, commercial and economic development,” according the the St. Paul city website. 

Three zones were chosen by the Planning and Economic Development department and were approved by the city council to have projects implemented in 2016. The zones included Lower Payne Avenue between East Seventh Street and Minnehaha Avenue, Phalen Village, and North Snelling Avenue, between University and Minnehaha avenues.

Each zone was allocated a share of the $750,000, with the Lower Payne Avenue zone receiving $337,500. 

The CVZ program focuses on projects to aid in economic development in commercial corridors. In this case, Morelli’s and Yarusso’s restaurants are the anchoring businesses in the corridor. The idea behind the overlook is to create a landmark that will attract people to the area, who will spend money at local businesses. 

Other project ideas included upgraded lantern-style street lighting and a gateway at the intersection of Payne Avenue and East Seventh Street to welcome people to the Railroad Island neighborhood. 

The decision to create the overlook had been based off community input and feasibility. Lantern-style lighting could be added and paid for by Ramsey County whenever Payne Avenue undergoes maintenance and the gateway idea had seemed undefined, according to city staff.

The community will be able to use the remaining CVZ money for another project. 

Don Lorr, chair of the Railroad Island Task Force, said no decision’s been made on a project, but that discussions with the community and the city will begin at the Railroad Island Task Force meeting in January.

The Lower Payne and Railroad Island areas have undergone many improvement projects over the past two summers. 

Last year the intersection at Payne and Bedford was realigned to make the intersection safer. This year the intersection at Payne Avenue and East Seventh Street was also fixed up, as was a parking lot at the same intersection, which is used to access local bike trails. 


Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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