The college town vibe is unmistakable in the Macalester-Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul, and it’s not just the fresh and uncynical young person serving up your latte at Dunn Brothers, the bulletin boards packed with leaflets and fliers promoting social justice/seeking roommates/offering to walk or sit pets or children, the affordable and eclectic places to eat, or the fact that the streets are named after colleges (Amherst, Wellesley, Princeton). Macalester-Groveland is unhurried, unpretentious and a tiny bit rumpled, like a professor, but no less charming. This neighborhood doesn’t have anything to prove. It’s got all the right stuff—ideally situated, walkable and quiet with modest to grand homes that reflect a wide variety of architectural styles.
Where It’s At
Macalester-Groveland is sandwiched between the Mississippi River and curvy Ayd Mill Road from west to east, and Summit and Randolph Avenues from north and south. Population is around 20,000.
Who They Are
Residents are a mix of families with school-age children and both empty nesters who have lived here forever, and empty nesters who have moved into the neighborhood from outlying suburbs for a more manageable house and lots more walkability. There are also professors and administrators who work at nearby colleges, but surprisingly few students, as most live on campus or next door in the Merriam Park neighborhood where the University of St. Thomas is located. The Macalester-Groveland Community Council works to keep the community connected with a variety of seasonal festivals, garden awards and special programs such as piloting St. Paul’s first organics recycling program. This year they’ve introduced the “Century Building Project” with plaques that honor the 3,000 houses and buildings in the neighborhood that are at least 100 years old.
The Macalester in Macalester-Groveland
Macalester College, a small, prestigious liberal arts college with a diverse, international student body and progressive spirit, is the heart of the neighborhood. Alumni include Vice President Walter Mondale, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and super Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel. The college brings the best and brightest students and faculty to the area, many of whom stay after graduation.
What To Do (P.S. You Can Probably Walk There)
With commercial nodes peppered along St. Clair, Grand, Snelling and Randolph Avenues, a coffee shop, restaurant, bar and variety of shops are sure to be close by. Some favorite neighborhood restaurants are Shish Cafe, founded by Jerusalem-born, former Olympic boxer Leo Judeh, serving big breakfasts, turkish coffee and mediterranean food, and The Groveland Tap where burgers, beer and classic comfort food rule. Newcomer Bar Brigade has taken over the Ristorante Luci space serving bistro fare in a tavern setting (they wisely kept the PBR sign out front). Residents can also catch a movie at the two-screen Grandview Theater on Grand and Fairview, and more active, sports-minded adults and kids can join a gym league or lace up a pair of skates at the Groveland Park Community Center.
Macalester-Groveland is filled with lots of pretty houses in a variety of architectural styles. Prices range from upwards of a million near the Mississippi river, $600k at the move-up level and around $250k for a starter home. Demand is high with record low inventory according to real estate agent and lifetime St. Paul resident Charlie Neimeyer. He says the neighborhood is filled with people who stay, often moving from a starter bungalow to a larger two-story house, and then back to a bungalow when the nest empties. Charlie attributes its popularity to the walkability of the area, attractive homes, and friendly, low-key nature of the residents. Plus, the area is quiet—there are few busy streets bisecting the neighborhood and, unlike similar Minneapolis neighborhoods, there’s no airplane noise. He also cites the Tangletown area, a nest of winding streets behind Macalester college, as a favorite area to live and stroll.
Two neighborhood schools, Randolph Heights and Groveland Park Elementary serve children in Macalester-Groveland. Both are well-regarded and attended by families in the neighborhood. For teens, there’s Central High School, the oldest high school in MN which offers IB, AP and STEM curriculum to it’s active and diverse student population. On the private side, Nativity is a popular parochial school for K-8 students and Cretin-Derham Hall (high school) and St. Paul Academy (P-12) are close by.