A long-vacant property near Smith and Dodd has a new owner with some serious plans to class up the joint.
Deckci Decor, an event decor rental company, is in the process of moving into the former O’Reilly Auto Parts location at 973 / 975 Smith, next door to Smith Liquors. The building, while well maintained, has been vacant for at least five years.
Owner Kristen Cici (presumably the “ci” in “Deckci”), says they plan to open in a few weeks, with an open house planned for March 29th. Cici says she serves 250-300 weddings per year. “We rent everything from table linens to paper lanterns, pipe/drape to charger plates and we focus on providing high quality for an affordable price.”
Cici says she toured 20-25 properties throughout the metro area before choosing Smith Avenue. “We decided on the Smith property because of its convenient location, affordable price, and great building. It has good bones – just needs primarily cosmetic updates. Hence our plans to update the front the building with lighting and paint once it’s warmer out.”
Once the company is moved in, Deckci will operate out of the north half of the building (973 Smith) and lease out the other half.
Monday night, a handful of neighborhood leaders and business owners gathered at Amore Coffee to start laying the groundwork for the second Art on the Avenue event. We’re shooting once again for early-mid August.
The meeting focused on lessons learned from last year’s event, and ideas to make it bigger and more vibrant this year. Christine Shyne from the West Side Community Organization will once again be spearheading the planning, with volunteers from the neighborhood doing much of the heavy lifting.
Here are some of the key takeaways from last year and ideas for this year:
Community participation is key. This is a grassroots, neighborhood event. Because the main business nodes on Smith Avenue are spaced so far apart, we’ll try to find events/activities/etc that will help fill in the gaps.
Last year we were on the same weekend as two major art fairs in Minneapolis. While this likely didn’t impact attendance, it does limit the pool of artists available to work with.
While last year’s event was big for some businesses like Amore and the Cherokee, few of the artists reported any sales (but most still enjoyed showing their work to a new audience). We really want to hear from artists about how to make this a great experience for them.
We’ll probably consolidate everything into a single day. Some people last year came out on Friday evening only to find many of the exhibits already closed.
We’ll try to get food vendors as well, with a priority placed on neighborhood businesses.
If you attended Art on the Avenue last year, let us know what you think we can do to make it even better this year. And watch this space for updates (and calls for volunteers and donations).
The center, which is adjacent to Cherokee Heights Elementary at Charlton and Page, has been arguably underutilized for years, but is about to enter a new era thanks to an operating agreement between St. Paul Schools and the YMCA.
On Saturday, February 1 you can explore the new center’s offerings at an open house from 10-2. There will be free exercise classes, cooking and gardening demonstrations, and a children’s story time. But the big draw (at least at our house) is the open swim in this amazing indoor pool:
The YMCA will be operating the pool, so kids will need to pass a swim test to use it unsupervised (for those with little kids, the shallowest part of the pool is 3 1/2 feet deep). The event is also an opportunity to talk with organizers about activities you’d like to see at the facility.
If you’re interested in attending, you should RSVP via this Facebook event page or email email@example.com. They’d like to know how many people to expect.
Thanks to everyone who’s helped bring this great neighborhood asset back to life.