Change is good, right? Well, we’ve been charging ahead full force the past month. Kid one moved out and into her own apartment mid-February, while the rest of us decided to pack it up and move back to the city. Today marks three weeks in our new loft in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood, which the local boosters describe as:
A vibrant artists’ quarter filled with beautiful workspaces, hip cafes, fine dining and the stunning CHS Field.
We are kitty-corner from the wonderful St. Paul Farmer’s Market in the Rayette building, which we share with the home of my all-time favorite cheeseburger, Saint Dinette. The building has had an interesting history, opening as a millinery in 1911, with stints as the home of Aqua Net hairspray and as a parking ramp before being converted to lofts in 2014. We downsized from three bedrooms to two, but added 13 foot ceilings, huge windows and a layout that seems much larger than before (ours is the Monroe, with 1,459 square feet). I love the exposed brick, industrial columns and lack of carpeting throughout (finally got to toss our crappy vacuum cleaner).
In addition to the suburb-to-city change, transportation has also been turned on its head. We still have two cars, but one is parked here and the other is in storage. Colleen gets a discounted transit pass from her employer and now rides the bus to work (express plus a short transfer). I bought a monthly Go-To card from Metro Transit and ride the Green Line trains to and from the stadium. The Union Depot station is a block over and takes just under 40 minutes to drop me off right across Chicago Avenue from the Legacy Gate (and/or the skyway entrance). I can’t express how much of a quality of life improvement it is to not drive in metro rush hour traffic any longer. Now I plug in my headphones, check social media, read stories, play games and just relax. Hoping to eventually sell one car and just stick with one (which kid two uses to drive herself to school).
We lived in downtown St. Paul the first year out of college at Galtier Plaza, but this area is now completely different. I read somewhere that Lowertown now has 3500 residents and I’m pretty sure about half of them have dogs, which makes me very happy (even though allergies still prevent us from adding to the total). Mears Park is a block west and has a mini restaurant row, with Bulldog, Barrio, Public Kitchen + Bar and Handsome Hog. Big River Pizza is across the street, with the eclectic Golden’s Deli a few doors south of that. There are a ton of additional restaurants nearby and we are super excited for Saints games to start. Our Twins ticket group also has Saints tickets, so we are buying one share this season to see how it goes. The stadium is literally on the other side of the building you see above.
In addition to having the option of that cheeseburger downstairs six days a week, the building has a bunch of other great amenities. The workout room is just perfect – it’s exactly what I would design if I had the opportunity: all Life Fitness gear, two treadmills, a room full of spin cycles, free weights, an elliptical, squat rack, benches and more. There are two large TVs with DirectTV and a speaker system that you can supposedly plug stuff into (can’t seem to get that part working so far). It’s conveniently located one floor below our unit and now I don’t have to go outside in the winter any more to exercise. The downtown YMCA teaches a free spin class one night a week and may bring back a yoga class later in the year too. Once it gets warmer, I will have some great new running and biking routes along the Mississippi that I can’t wait to try.
Directly across from the exercise room is the “Sinatra Lounge,” which is a shared community space that has a fireplace, bar, multiple TVs and a pool table. We’ve already spent a lot of time shooting pool – I really like having access to that again (and free is even better). Up on the roof, there is a community patio that includes a gas fire pit, grill, all-season TV and speaker system. The views of the river and surrounding areas are stellar, day or night. The office manager and maintenance guy are great, the mail and package delivery systems seem to work well and I love having chutes for trash and recycling. My only (small) issues so far are the overly complicated thermostat and the noise from one of the garage door openers.
We are mostly unpacked now, with just a few areas that need to be cleaned up (and a few more things to hang on the walls). Once that’s done, we’d love to have visitors – drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see you soon in Lowertown!