Tuesday, February 19, 2008

University Avenue Community Coalition, St. Paul

The University Avenue Community Coalition (UACC) is group of community organizations and residents representing diverse viewpoints, including advocates for organized labor, affordable housing, faith groups, racial and cultural equity, transit, economic justice, environmental groups, and community development and neighborhood organizations. The primary purpose of UACC is to organize community members to fight for community benefits for low-income people and people of color. Recently, UACC has been leading a campaign to negotiate CBAs covering growth associated with the planned construction of the Central Corridor light rail transit system between Minneapolis and St. Paul. The community coalition has developed 6 primary goals:
  • To ensure that 30% of all new housing units will be affordable, and that current residents will not be displaced.  
  • To ensure that minority contractors have equal access, and that civil rights provisions in the economic development laws are fully enforced.
  • To prioritize job training and workforce development, minority and local hiring, small business and entrepreneur assistance, and programs that assist lower-income people and people of color in attaining home ownership.
  • To ensure that workers receive living wages and benefits and have a right to organize.
  • To ensure that transit and development around transit stations reflects the community's needs and identity; job and housing density along the rail line should incorporate good jobs and affordable housing; and bus service should be preserved and expanded.
  • To preserve and enhance the existing cultural complexity of the community; revitalization should incorporate creative anti-gentrification tools and promote cultural tourism that would build and expand wealth creation for existing ethnic communities.
UACC was able to negotiate a number of benefits to be provided by a SuperTarget on Lexington and University Avenues. Contractors agreed to include 20% minorities in building on the site, and Target agrees to seek about 200 new employees from the surrounding neighborhoods. 
St. Paul's mayor, Chris Coleman, has publicly supported holding future developments along University to higher standards of transit-oriented design and mixed use. Other projects in the transit corridor have begun to incorporate community benefits as well: the nonprofit Episcopal Homes agreed to build 50 units of affordable housing for seniors; TCF Bank built a job training center at its new site; and several developers have committed to local hiring policies.

More information about the University Avenue Community Coalition and its other initiatives can be found in a report by the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability. Information about St. Paul's Central Corridor planning and development strategy is available here.

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