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Lowertown Apartment

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The Flood

I knew something was wrong because of the smell.

It hit me when I unlocked my apartment door one evening.

The smell was not “dog shat the rug” foul, nor was it “old food in the garbage” foul… it was … just foul.

Sewage foul.

And this what I found in the bathroom:

Sewage backup in my bathroom.
My sink exploded while I was at work. Water and pools of sludge were everywhere.

I think the proper term is “backed up.” Continue reading “The Flood” »

2014 Summer Architecture Lowertown Lowertown Apartment Minneapolis-St. Paul pictures

Boom Times

Generic condos

There’s a housing boom going on in the Twin Cities.

Every time I venture into Uptown, I see another new vaguely-industrial loft building. There are also a few going up in St. Paul.

Generic condos

Generic condos outside of downtown St. Paul

Most of the stylized faux-factory developments look the same, and I don’t really understand the architectural style.

These buildings are trendy, but boring. Most of these developments will also look ridiculous in 10 years.

Do you know how we roll our eyes at those 80’s brick skyscrapers? That’s what’s going to happen with the fake factory loft buildings.

The particular “loft” building in the picture is called West Side Flats. It’s on the opposite side of the river from downtown St. Paul, and despite having a few Hour Cars, it must be terribly isolated in the winter.

West Side Flats is a few hundred dollars cheaper per month than the core Lowertown buildings, but it’s far enough away from everything that it doesn’t make sense to live there unless you live at the US Bank or Comcast buildings on that side of the river.

Rayette Apartments

The Rayette is a new condo building going up in St. Paul.

There’s also a new apartment building coming to Lowertown.

The building is called the Rayette Lofts, and it’s in a former parking garage right across the street from the downtown St. Paul Farmer’s Market.

The Rayette’s leasing office is near my building and the leasing company is extremely aggressive (much to the annoyance of my building management.) 

The rival building kept putting sandwich boards in front of our building until our management started stealing them.

I went to see the Rayette show unit out of curiosity. The charming sales agent couldn’t make the mock apartment less underwhelming. The unit was smaller than my current apartment and far more expensive(One bedrooms top $2,000k/month)

The Rayette show unit also didn’t have the same specs as the real building (flooring, windows, ceiling height, cabinets) so only information that I got from the staged unit that the Rayette is another spendy, generic luxury building.

I don’t know whether downtown St. Paul really has the demand to support all of the new apartment units.

The prices for rentals in Lowertown are beginning to rival Uptown and the Warehouse District, and we have a dramatically smaller social/bar scene.

Another problem is that the condos in downtown St. Paul are relatively cheap, so people who have the means to spend $2,000 on rent will either buy (or rent) a condo instead of opting for the spendy building next door.

But who knows, perhaps I’m wrong about people’s tolerance for high rents in fake factories.

dogs Lowertown Apartment MJD pictures

Günter’s New Sweater

Gunter's sweater

I’m officially that guy who buys sweaters for his Chihuahua.

I used to think “those dog owners” were obnoxious, but clothing is actually a necessity for some dogs.

Günter starts shivering anytime it gets under 65 degrees, so the sweaters help.

Gunter's

Gunter is a two year old Chiweenie (half chihuahua, half dachshund).

This particular sweater is from Walmart.

I got it for $4 on sale.

Gunter's Tired Again

Gunter is a two year old Chiweenie (half chihuahua, half dachshund).

There’s a myth that good dog clothes have to be expensive.

While certain boutiques in St. Paul charge exorbitant prices, most major retailers like Target and Walmart have decent dog clothes for under $15.

I’m also not one of “those dog owners” who splurges on dog clothing. Who does that?

Gunter's Tired Again

Gunter is a two year old Chiweenie (half chihuahua, half dachshund).

2014 Summer Lowertown Lowertown Apartment Minneapolis-St. Paul pictures Take Three the details

The Lowertown Depot Building

Abandoned Lowertown Depot Building

Although St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood is rapidly developing, there is one building left behind.

It’s the Lowertown Depot and located at the foot of the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.


According to Dan Turner’s SubStreet blog, the building was renamed Lowertown Depot to as part of a failed residential development project.

Apparently the Lowertown Depot wasn’t a depot at all, but the old Standard Oil Branch Warehouse. The name was just a marketing gimmick for condo developers.

I’m surprised that they haven’t attempted to redevelop the area – it’s a massive undeveloped chunk of land right by downtown.

The Lowertown Depot reminds me a lot of Miami’s Midtown neighborhood. Midtown was just a huge chunk of undeveloped railroad tracks when I was in high school. Developers decided to play Sim City and turned it into a huge residential and commercial complex.

Midtown Miami

Midtown Miami

It will be interesting to see how much the Lowertown area will change in the next few years. We just got the Amtrak and light rail service, and apparently a stadium is coming soon.

This neighborhood has become increasingly trendy (and expensive) which will likely force many of us to make a buying vs. moving decision next summer.
Rising rents almost drove us back to Minneapolis this summer.
In fact, we had a deposit down on an apartment, but we were rejected because my prior landlord didn’t respond to their reference requests. The guy who took my unit is a little freaked out because he’ll likely run into the same problem.

Exhaustion from the apartment search caused us to sign on for another year in Lowertown, but I suspect future rent hikes will soon turn this area into another Uptown or Warehouse District.

We’ll see.

dogs Life Lowertown Apartment Minneapolis-St. Paul MJD pictures

Meet Hugo

Hugo Puppy

The St. Paul Animal Humane Society is far different than the humane society locations in the Twin Cities.

The place is an assault to the senses – howling dogs, employees trying to manage the hoard of would-be adopters, and the overpowering stench of dog piss.

It was in this chaos that we found Hugo, our new dog.


Hugo’s brindle color means that we have to constantly explain that he’s not a pitbull at the dog park.

No one believes us.

The conversations usually go something like this:

Neighbor: “Oh what a beautiful puppy, what type is he?”
Me: “A lab and retriever mix.”
Neighbor: “Looks like a pit bull to me.”
Me: “The pound didn’t tell us about any pit bull mix. Other dogs have brindle colors too…”
Neighbor: “Well your secret is safe with me.”
Me: “What secret? THERE IS NO SECRET. I HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE. DAMN IT.”


Hugo and our chihuahua got off to a rocky start.

Günter was initially territorial and bitchy to Hugo. He’d constantly growl and snap at Hugo, especially around toys.

Then Hugo realized that he was bigger than Günter….and that he could mug him for toys.

Chaos ensued.

Tangentially – my building management company recently reduced their list of banned dog breeds. We now have a 200-bound mastiff in the building, and bullmastiffs are allowed too! (About a year too late however.)

Hugo would pounce on Günter, causing a fight. We’d scream. The dogs would scatter, and then start up a few minutes later.

Then we hit a turning point where they actually started playing with eachother.

Luckily my building strictly relies on adoption paperwork, so the pit bull rumors weren’t a factor in adopting him.

Günter the Chiweenie.

Mitchell with Günter, our Chiweenie.

I think they wore each other out.


Golden Showers.

Hugo is only three months old, so that means he’s not potty trained yet. He pees everywhere.

My puppy is a substantial contributor to Minnesota’s flooding problem.

He pees on the carpet. He pees in the toy box.

He pees in the kitchen. He pees when you let him out of the kennel.

He even (tries) to pee in the lobby.

It’s exhausting.

One day we were on the way to Mears Park when a couple asked to pet Hugo. So of course Hugo leaps up and pisses all over the guys leg.

We were mortified (and slightly amused.)

He’s working on it.

Kind of.

Hugo Puppy