When we decided to wed nearly three years ago, moving to my already established home in Downtown St. Paul seemed like a natural fit. We loved the building, and the quiet urban center that was Lowertown was less than a mile from my post at the State Capitol.
But before long, the evenings we once enjoyed listening to the local jazz trumpeter playing in Mears Park next to the lapping brook were quickly replaced by a newly developed entertainment district’s sound-ordinance breaking speakers and young suburbanites shrieking at 1
a.m. while groping for their car keys on the sidewalk.
While we applauded the conversion of Union Depot back to its origins as a transportation hub, its renovation marked the beginning of summer after summer of jack hammers and madly beeping construction vehicles as a parade of apartment, condo buildings, and finally a new ballpark, shattered the daytime peace as well.
Mears Park had also become a magnent for every type of band, festival and wedding imaginable. We found ourselves compelled to leave our apartment several evenings each week during the summer due to the noise level. Finally, we vacated a stunning fourth floor park view apartment halfway through our first lease for a quieter unit overlooking Fifth Street.
The “band” problem persists so heavily throughout Lowertown on an even larger scale now. A friend who lives in the Great Northern building believes the City of St. Paul has someone employed full-time to locate every potential band in the metro area so that they can be placed in some area of Lowertown each night of the week, with the intent to drive out its residents. Bands are now apparently disturbing her home life every Wednesday evening from the platform of the Union Depot.
It was becoming obvious that the once welcoming city neighborhood we loved wasn’t really interested in the fact that we could no longer sleep or work in our home. It was more excited about attracting students and young professionals who wanted to watch a baseball game before hitting the tequila bar, and then enjoy the luxury of walking to an apartment to sleep off the hangover.
We knew we had to leave. We also knew we loved urban life. So we wondered: is it possible to live in an urban center and not have to use earplugs to get a good night’s sleep? Does every city have someone employed to find bands, install bars and hire screaming 20 year-olds to
plague its residents? It may be a huge gamble, but we’re betting not.
We have discovered a unique, remote neighborhood at what we’re calling “the end” of the Minneapolis North Loop. It was the building that attracted us first. Sleek, Swedish and a model for green living that seemed to actually be feasible. But when we discovered it was located on the far edge of downtown, close to both of our workplaces, and how the builder had been “sound conscious” in its construction (using the double-paned glass concept most large cities use for sound control in urban residential buildings), we thought we had a shot.
So, we’re sorting, selling, packing and praying that our little piece of urban heaven lies across the river. We’ll keep you posted.