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$1M St. Paul project winner hits early snags

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There was much hoopla when the St. Paul Foundation launched a $1 million contest last year seeking the best idea for transforming St. Paul.

The winner – announced with fanfare last month – was a proposal to revitalize an abandoned warehouse in the Bruce Vento Nature Center east of downtown into a local food destination.

The Urban Oasis plan's author, Tracy Sides of St. Paul, envisions a buzzing hive of food producers and consumers in a brightly lit, newly renovated space, with a food truck, catering center, classrooms, restaurant and a center for farmers, the Pioneer Press reported.

But the project is already hitting bureaucratic snags, the newspaper reported. It wasn't initially clear whether businesses or nonprofits would manage operations there. Now the Metropolitan Council says tax rules severely limit businesses at the site, the newspaper reports.

Sides is not deterred. "The Urban Oasis is an idea," she told the Pioneer Press, "and the space between an idea and what it looks like in reality is a journey."

Here's more on the Urban Oasis plan:

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