Robert Street in West St. Paul

Fact Check: 80 New Business on Robert Street, Really? Yes

Thanks to Cherokee Service for their support.

Over the weekend, a front-page Pioneer Press story covered the resurgence of Robert Street in West St. Paul. It included several quotes, including a claim from Mayor Dave Napier that were 80 new businesses on Robert Street.

“At least 80 new businesses are now on Robert Street since the project’s completion, the mayor said.”

Pioneer Press

That sounds a little far-fetched, right? There has been a lot of new development this year, but was this just Mayor Napier’s typical exaggerated optimism? We’re kind of nerdy (and apparently bored), so we thought we’d find out.

Short answer: Yes. There are at least 80 new businesses on Robert Street since the construction project in 2016.

“If you beautify (Robert Street) and make it safe, and really make it an attractive roadway, businesses will come. And it worked.”

Mayor Dave Napier

At Least 80 New Businesses on Robert Street

Here’s our full list:

  1. Gateway Place (Annapolis & Robert)
  2. Suite Living (938 S. Robert St.)
  3. Children’s MN (963 S. Robert St.)
  4. SEEK Careers (992 S. Robert St)
  5. Kraken Cargo (992 S. Robert St)
  6. Matt Birk and Company (992 S. Robert St)
  7. Hair Mechanix (998 S. Robert St.)
  8. Backdoor Day Spa (111 Bernard St. E.)
  9. Dakota West Boutique (113 Benard St. E.)
  10. BéLashii Beauty Lounge (1099 S. Robert St.)
  11. Ojo Law Office (1152 S. Robert St.)
  12. Rivera Chiropractic Center (1166 S. Robert St.)
  13. Tigers Taekwondo (1166 S. Robert St.)
  14. Legacy Commons and Hilltop apartments (50 Signal Hills Center)
  15. Tii Cup (1193 S. Robert St.)
  16. Del Primo Western Wear (1200 S. Robert St.)
  17. SuperMex Market (1200 S. Robert St.)
  18. All About Dentistry (1200 S. Robert St.)
  19. Lavilash (1201. S. Robert St.)
  20. Micho Love (1201. S. Robert St.)
  21. Hangout Nutrition (1201. S. Robert St.)
  22. People Ready (1201. S. Robert St.)
  23. St. Paul School of Music (1201. S. Robert St.)
  24. Just Paws Pet Salon (1201. S. Robert St.)
  25. Tokyo 23 Hibachi Buffet (1201. S. Robert St.)
  26. Rainbow Clothing (1201. S. Robert St.)
  27. Optimism IC Wigs & Gifts (1201. S. Robert St.)
  28. Dunkin’ (1224 S. Robert St.)
  29. Metro by T-Mobile (1232 S. Robert St.)
  30. Boost Mobile (1238 S. Robert St.)
  31. Sherry’s Dearest Treasures (34 Moreland Ave. E.)
  32. More Space Storage (68 Moreland Ave. E.)
  33. Thai Pepper (1307 S. Robert St.)
  34. World Famous Momo (1318 S. Robert St.)
  35. Royal Eyebrow Threading (1318 S. Robert St.)
  36. Tumble Fresh Laundry (1365 S. Robert St.)
  37. Northland Cabinet Source (1399 S. Robert St.)
  38. Denny’s (1458 S. Robert St.)
  39. Hmong American Farmer’s Association (149 E. Thompson Ave.)
  40. El Rey Radio (149 E. Thompson Ave.)
  41. The Adam Johnson Group (149 E. Thompson Ave.)
  42. Evolve Adoption & Family Services (149 E. Thompson Ave.)
  43. Minnesota One-Stop for Communities (149 E. Thompson Ave.)
  44. LaborKey (149 E. Thompson Ave.)
  45. BrightPath (149 E. Thompson Ave.)
  46. Savor Apartments (1598 S. Robert St.)
  47. Adecco Staffing (1615 S. Robert St.)
  48. Sports Clips (1617 S. Robert St.)
  49. iClean Staffing Services (1635 S. Robert St.)
  50. Parker Resource Group (1641 S. Robert St.)
  51. Pachanga Sonidera (1643 S. Robert)
  52. Sublime Haircare (1643 S. Robert)
  53. Hobby Lobby (1660 S. Robert St.)
  54. Planet Fitness (1675 S. Robert St.)
  55. Jersey Mike’s (1705 S. Robert St.)
  56. Qdoba (1709 S. Robert St.)
  57. Raising Cane’s (1715 S. Robert St.)
  58. Sola Salon (1720 Livingston Ave.)
  59. Great Health Nutrition (1668 S. Robert St.)
  60. Twin City Staffing (1672 S. Robert St.)
  61. Tobacco & E-Cig Sales (1676 S. Robert St.)
  62. Metro by T-Mobile (1678 S. Robert St.)
  63. Aloha Nails (1680 S. Robert St.)
  64. Pawn America (1682 S. Robert St.)
  65. Mela Thai (1720 S. Robert St.)
  66. Hamburguesa El Gordo (1731 S. Robert St.)
  67. Chick-fil-A (1770 S. Robert St.)
  68. Blue Lake Laundromat (1871 S. Robert St.)
  69. Atlas Staffing (1885 S. Robert St.)
  70. Tokyo Sushi (1895 S. Robert St.)
  71. Midwest Dental (1903 S. Robert St.)
  72. Crew Carwash (1949 S. Robert St.
  73. MedExpress Urgent Care (1963 S. Robert St.)
  74. Bank of America (1994 S. Robert St.)
  75. Southview Animal Hospital (2000 S. Robert St.)
  76. The Dance Center (2026 S. Robert St.)
  77. Starbucks (2037 S. Robert St.)
  78. Xfinity (2037 S. Robert St.
  79. $5 Tan (2043 S. Robert St.)
  80. Chase Bank (2045 S. Robert St.)
  81. Affordable Dentures & Implants (2055 S. Robert St.)
  82. Daisy Nails (2063 S. Robert St.)
  83. Chuck & Don’s (2069 S. Robert St.)

Method to Our Madness

So how did we do it? City Planner Melissa Sonnek was gracious enough to provide Community Development annual reports from 2015 to 2020, as well as lists of businesses from 2015 and 2018 so we had some way to verify if a business pre-dated the project or not. We also drove up and down Robert Street (see: nerd).

  • We looked at anything added in 2016 or later, even though construction started in 2015 and finished up halfway through 2017. The limited data we had made it hard to verify exactly when something went in. The Pioneer Press also wasn’t using an exact quote, they just attributed the fact to the mayor, so we’ll give a little wiggle room and not parse the exact phrasing.
  • We also only counted new businesses, not relocations along Robert Street (so no to Eclipse Music, Autozone, Batteries & Bulbs, Goodwill, etc.)
  • We did count businesses that were just off Robert Street, even if they weren’t directly on Robert Street. (This is subjective, but we looked at roughly half a block or less away—so yes to the Thompson Business Center behind Starbucks, but no to The Winslow behind Walmart.)
  • In-process projects were included, but if they haven’t made much progress this year we didn’t include them (so no to Hy-Vee, yes to Crew Carwash).
  • Renovations or rebuilds were not included. Even though we’ll have a fancy new Bobby and Steve’s and Burger King, or places like Target and McDonald’s had big renovations, none of them are new businesses.
  • This is not a net gain calculation—Robert Street has certainly lost businesses in the past five years and we didn’t attempt to quantify that. It’s fair to say there’s a lot of turnover in a commercial corridor.
  • We most likely missed a number of new businesses. We tried to include everything we could verify wasn’t on Robert Street before 2016 and is still in business today. There are a lot of small businesses in office space that come and go. If we couldn’t see a sign in the window or verify an address on their website, we left them out.

So it’s certainly not 100% scientific, but it’s close enough to say Mayor Napier was right.

While the Robert Street project was certainly a headache, there has been a surge of redevelopment and many new businesses coming to West St. Paul.

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(Photo by Peter Ladd)

5 comments

  1. WOW! I am impressed. Many businesses I am not aware of. I will have to print this info and check out the businesses myself …LOL, the little nerd in me. LOL Thank you for your great work and journalism.

  2. Public investment pays dividends. And this list doesn’t include the new housing that will support those new businesses.

  3. Still think that the family restuarants need to be replaced. Where are all these new residents going to eat??? A new laundromat less than a block from a relatively new laundromat? Another car wash, replacing a restaurant! So many fast food and a few ethnic places….need more.

    1. Fran, I encourage you to read our post about why some businesses are going in and not others. There’s a reason restaurants didn’t go into the Perkins or Bakers Square spaces. For Perkins, a big reason was because the site was too small to accommodate a drive thru, something all restaurants want now, especially after the Pandemic and the increase in takeout. For Bakers Square, the land owner sold it too quickly for the city’s community development team to market it to potential restaurants. In almost all of these cases, the land owner gets to do what they want, and the city has little to no power to ensure we get something like a restaurant. And a larger reason is market forces. Sit-down restaurants are going away and they’re being replaced by fast food and fast casual places (think Panera, Noodles, etc.). West St. Paul actually has over 60 restaurants, so there’s plenty to eat. If you want more sit-down restaurants, you better support the ones we have. FoodSmith is absolutely a case study right now in whether or not a new sit-down restaurant will work.

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