COMMUNICATIONS AND NEWS FROM THE WEEK: January 26th, 2024
Meetings and Announcements:
- The next City Council meeting will be Monday, February 12th. We will have Mike Sable’s contract on the consent agenda. As of today, there will not be a Council/Manager workshop.
Purple Line Update
Please see the attached the Purple Line project update memo from Craig Lamothe, that they have been sharing with agency partners, staff and policymakers on a monthly basis. Let me know if you have any questions.
Maplewood Participating in MN Whole-of-State Cybersecurity Plan
State of MN IT Services (MNIT) has partnered with the Minnesota Cybersecurity Task Force to develop a Whole-of-State Cybersecurity Plan to present a strong, united front against cybersecurity threats. This plan is funded by the federal State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program (SLCGP) and the Minnesota Legislature. Part of the plan is offering managed detection and response (MDR) to eligible entities. MDR is an advanced antivirus solution that looks for the types of attacks that could lead to data breaches, ransomware, or other major events if not detected and blocked. A key advantage to MDR is that a vendor team manages and actively monitors the platform, investigates detections and incidents, and remotely remediates malicious activity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Maplewood has signed on as an early adopter for this service. In doing so the City receives the service free of charge for 6 months and will be able to take advantage of subsidized pricing through 2027. IT staff is currently working with the State implementation team and expects to go live by mid-March.
Whole-of-State Cybersecurity Plan / Minnesota IT Services (mn.gov)
MnDOT Highway 120/Century Avenue Study
MnDOT’s study of Century Avenue, from I-94 to I-694, continues to make progress. The study has narrowed down the universe of alternatives to two corridor alternatives and four interchange alternatives for the Highway 36/Century Avenue at grade intersection. MnDOT presented these alternatives at the City Council Workshop held on 10/23/2023.
MnDOT is moving forward with public engagement. Alternatives for the corridor, and interchange concepts at TH36 and Century Avenue, will be on display at an Open House on Tuesday January 30thfrom 5-7:00pm at the Oakdale Discovery Center (4444 Hadley Ave. N., Oakdale, MN 55128).
Contact Steve Love if you have any questions on this.
IN THE NEWS
HmongTown Marketplace expanding to second location at former Maplewood Mall Sears
A grand opening for the site could come as soon as May of 2025.
By Greta Kaul Star Tribune
JANUARY 24, 2024 — 1:44PM
SHARI L. GROSS, STAR TRIBUNE
The space once occupied by Sears at Maplewood Mall will become the second location of HmongTown Market, as seen in Maplewood on Wednesday.
The owners of HmongTown Marketplace in St. Paul are planning to turn the vacant former Sears store at Maplewood Mall into a HmongTown Marketplace 2.0. The space could include a grocer, adult daycare center, entertainment zone, office space, spa, food court, farmers market and more.
HmongTown Marketplace owner Toua Xiong, whose LLC bought the former Sears building and some of the land around it in November for $5.25 million, presented plans to Maplewood elected officials at a city council work session Monday night.
Sears closed in Maplewood in 2018, leaving vacant the 180,000-square foot space that formerly anchored the mall's south end.
Architect Greg Elsner, of Shelter Architecture, outlined plans for the space and its surrounding area that include Hmong and Asian cultural motifs, vegetation and a layout that encourages interaction with vendors. The designs were influenced by a trip the team took to Thailand to look at night markets and food venues, he said.
Outside the building, the team is planning to build a structure to house a seasonal farmer's market. Later, Xiong said the site could add housing.
Xiong said he hopes to start construction on the building in September or October, though he said he'd like to open the farmers market temporarily using tents this spring. Xiong said a grand opening for the site could come as soon as May of 2025, but also didn't rule out opening the site on a phased basis.
Xiong and his wife, Nou, opened HmongTown Marketplace in 2004 in a former lumber company building on Como Avenue near the Minnesota State Capitol. With more than 200 vendors, including food, clothing and jewelry sellers, Xiong said it quickly became a destination for the area's Hmong community and beyond.
Xiong and his family have been looking to expand, he said: With a Hmong population in the Twin Cities larger than the entire population of Duluth, Xiong said HmongTown and the nearby Hmong Village Shopping Center aren't big enough to meet the demand of customers.
At busy times, the parking lot at HmongTown Marketplace's Como location, a more dense and urban area, fills up. With thousands of parking spots, that wouldn't be a concern at Maplewood Mall, Xiong said.
"The Sears property is the perfect size for us," Xiong told the Star Tribune. "At the same time, it is in a very, very good central location for our community."
At the same time, Xiong said he hopes the development would help the Maplewood community, bringing more foot traffic to Maplewood Mall — something city officials expressed excitement about, too.
"It's very exciting to see some things happening in our north end and especially revitalization of the mall," Maplewood Mayor Marylee Abrams said.
The presentation was designed to give council members a general sense of plans. Later, the city will need to sign off on any zoning and land use changes needed to realize those plans.
Council Member Chonburi Lee said the market can't come soon enough. He said he considers himself a "flea market kid." His parents were vendors at markets like HmongTown and that helped pave the way for him to go to college. "There's so many opportunities that will be provided to a lot of BIPOC and micro-entrepreneurs that this project will be bringing to our city," he said.
Greta Kaul is the Star Tribune’s Ramsey County reporter.
This is the news for the week. I will be on vacation starting Friday, February 2nd and returning on February 12th. Mike Darrow will also be out of the office on February 2ndso Danette Parr will be acting City Manager for the day and the weekend should anything come up. Her cell phone number is 651-245-3425. There will not be a FYI next week.