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Finding Art, Community, and Transportation Choices in Saint Paul’s Creative Enterprise Zone

This summer, Move Minnesota partnered with Saint Paul’s Creative Enterprise Zone to help lead three bike tours of the new murals created for the 2021 Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival. It’s just one sign of the abundant arts, community, and transportation choices people can find here.

The Chroma Zone Mural & Art Festival was launched in 2019 and was the first of its kind in Minnesota. It hosts local artist from the Twin Cities, as well as artists from around the world. The festival strives to make the creative work happening inside the buildings of the neighborhood more visible and the murals contribute to the long-term beauty, economic vitality, and walkability of the area.

The Creative Enterprise Zone (CEZ) is both a place and a nonprofit organization. From the intersection of Raymond and University Avenues, the Creative Enterprise Zone neighborhood radiates south to Interstate 94, east to Prior Avenue, north to the railroad tracks by Energy Park Drive, and west to Minneapolis, with University Avenue and the METRO Green Line running through it. It is historically an industrial area, but when construction of light rail on University Avenue occurred a number of businesses and creatives working in the area were displaced. Now the area is increasingly residential with local breweries, restaurants, studios, and creative businesses also filling its spaces.

Not only is the Creative Enterprise Zone a historic hub for creation, culture, and living, but it also serves as a living example of the possibilities of transit in people’s lives. The CEZ is becoming more and more bike-able and walkable while also featuring light-rail and bus routes; this is one of the communal bastions in Minnesota where people are beginning to actively maneuver and participate in their communities without having to own and maintain a personal vehicle.

Move Minnesota’s offices are located in the CEZ, and we share the desire of many to make the community more walkable so that transit is an easy first choice. The Saint Paul Grand Round biking and walking trails also travel through the space via Como to Raymond to Myrtle Avenues and then on to Pelham Boulevard. These bike lanes connect to the U of MN’s bike lanes on the transitway to the Mississippi River Road trail.

For the bicycle tours, participants gathered at local coffee shops and listened to organizers share information about the CEZ, the murals, and the artist. We then visited selected murals and learned more about the artist and the making of each mural.

Move Minnesota assisted with making sure the bike tours were safe with the mix of truck traffic and some challenging crossing at University Avenue. We also shared information on the various transportation options in the area, some of the challenges as a pedestrian and bicyclist, and invited riders to share their thoughts on the City of Saint Paul’s Bicycle Plan Update.

We are excited about the map that was created for this event that highlights the transit options in the CEZ neighborhood. We plan to take this idea further in other areas in Saint Paul. Keep your eyes out for Move Minnesota’s Choose How You Move guides in 2022!