Stillwater revitalized after bridge closing

Published 8:25 am Monday, March 19, 2018

STILLWATER, Minn.  — The closing of an old two-lane lift bridge has helped spark a rebirth in eastern Minnesota.

Stillwater leaders told The Pioneer Press that a wave of young investors, hoteliers and restaurateurs are now putting money into some of the city’s older buildings.

The Stillwater Lift Bridge closed in August. About 17,000 vehicles a day were going through downtown when the bridge was open, causing traffic jams that could stretch for blocks.

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Now it’s easier to park and walk around the area, said Joe Ehlenz, owner of LoLo American Kitchen. LoLo is getting involved in the changes downtown, having recently expanded to add a bar, prep kitchen and office area.

Walking around downtown used to be scary because of the traffic, said Robin Anthony, executive director of the Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce. Visitors can how walk around without having to worry, she said.

“Change is good. Downtown, post-bridge, is absolutely fabulous. It’s a real hometown feeling,” Anthony said.

Locals are also starting to explore the downtown area more, she said.