This is a post from 2011. After a long delay, the Rathskeller is indeed going to be open to the public in a few months!
The tower rises from the heart of West Seventh, defining and defying the passage of time and the lay of the community. The Schmidt Brewery is the West End to many people because it rises like an old oak from secure roots to dominate the skyline longer than anyone can remember. Its endurance is remarkable because it cannot be ignored yet somehow has been neglected, too big to care for and yet too important to imagine life without.
That’s how the Fort Road Federation, through the help of the City of Saint Paul, came to acquire the property for redevelopment. Decades of tireless work by many people, led by City Councilmember Dave Thune, has reached another turning point for this symbol of a community and its endurance. After years of planning and haggling it has a new owner and, soon, a new use.
I toured the site as member of the Federation’s Board of Directors. I’d like to show you one small but vital part of this great site, the Rathskeller. It is one of the hidden jewels of Saint Paul, soon to be uncovered once again.
How do you fit all the public amenities needed for a 21st century city into a 19th century street? Some cities benefited from great forethought, like Salt Lake City, and gave a few extra feet here and there for the public realm. Saint Paul, my hometown, wasn’t as generous.
As I have discussed before, I’m deeply involved in the process of considering transit improvements to West Seventh Street. For me, it’s more than just my ‘hood – it’s a very classic street through a neighborhood that demonstrates many of the best things that cities have to offer. Yes, it needs a little something here and there, and should include better transit.
This is a big public decision, and the public has to be involved. In order to communicate not just plans but the thinking behind them, for true citizen empowerment, it’s vital that we get into how this is going.
It’s been the kind of week you swim through. The thick languid air drags back as if yesterday was a long time ago and tomorrow might never come. It’s not a day to get much work done, but we all slog through.
Daze like this I admit I go back through the Barataria archives to see if there’s anything that needs updating. Starting from July of 2011, however, it’s positively depressing. Employment is still lagging and the economy has not done anything new. At least funding is being secured to restore the old Rathskeller at the Schmidt Brewery on West Seventh – we locals are moving forward with heart and arm and brain. But at the big level, things are simply languishing as if summer never ended.