Penfield: Selling Lifestyle in St. Paul

by Alex Stenback on August 9, 2006

To this point, downtown St. Paul has been sort of the readheaded stepchild of the Twin Cities condo market.  Theories abound about why this is, but we tend to chalk it up to the fact that there is simply less "going on" in downtown St. Paul.  Fewer restaurants, fewer events, fewer destinations, and not nearly as strong an employment base.

Which makes notable the fact that at least one condo developer in St. Paul has started selling "lifetsyle" rather than location, hoping that it will spur what has been to this point an underperforming urban condo market east of the River. From the Pioneer Press:

Developers behind "The Penfield," a highly anticipated 33-story
glass skyscraper that promises to transform and modernize St. Paul’s
downtown skyline, have rolled out an advertising campaign that…[pitches] lifestyle over details,
marketing luxury and excitement as if they were tall glasses of water
on the arid plains of east metro boredom.

Now, we like St. Paul, and have been there at least twice (yuk, yuk) but Luxury and excitement aren’t exactly the first things that come to mind when pondering east river environs, so we are not sure exactly how this will fly.  We’ll withold judgement for now, as the project’s website encourages to change our view of St. Paul.

That said, St. Paul has some great "City Life" – just drop by one of our favorite capital city blogs, Cool on the Hill, for a sample.
· Ads Sell Condo Tower, Image [PiPress]
· The Penfield []

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa Boardman August 11, 2006 at 7:43 am

Now watch what you say about St. Paul. Some us us like it here! Come on over some time and I will give you a tour. People that don’t love St. Paul don’t understand it. We are different from Minneapolis and plan to remain so. We offer small town life in the big city. I have been to your office and you work out there in the burbs, you don’t hit me as an urban kind of guy at all.

Editor August 11, 2006 at 8:48 am


St. Paul is like a little brother – fun to tease but lovable nonetheless.

And though we now reside in the cushy burbs our urban credentials are well established, having spent the better part of 22 years in the guts of South Minneapolis.

As an aside, the poster above has a great St. Paul RE blog that we were remiss in not mentioning in the post itself – head on over and check it out!

Ellen August 13, 2006 at 8:05 pm

No wonder I’ve been wheezing. I thought it was the onset of ragweed season, compounded by my usual aversion to aerobic exertion. But surely my shortness of breath is due to Saint Paul’s being “more breathtaking than ever” thanks to the possible arrival of a luxury condominium highrise.

As a 13-year Saint Paul resident, I would argue that chief among the city’s charms is its rather low threshold for excitement. Not to mention indulgence. And sentence fragments. These are things best left to Minneapolis.

I don’t mean to pick on some poor copywriter—I write plenty of semi-plausible hubris at client insistence. It pays the mortgage. But I *do* mean to pick on whomever directed and approved the tone and message of the pitch. Because the notion that there’s all this undiscovered, life-changing fabulousness over here, well, it kinda strains credulity.

And maybe it’s just me but I think downtown dwellers would appreciate having a grocery store within walking distance *even more* than a meditation room.

Cara August 24, 2006 at 7:45 pm

Right on, Ellen.
If Saint Paul wants to make downtown living more desirable, developers should take a *walk* around and see what it’s like to be a pedestrian in an environment dominated by large auto boulevards, parking garages and highway ramps.

Downtown needs more streets like Saint Paul’s Grand Avenue.

Adguy October 10, 2006 at 4:36 pm

What about the new development in Lilydale? That looks cool to me.

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