Barker and Hedges Real Estate Blog

Greening Minnesota ~ October

Including North St. Paul and Anoka, 12 Minnesota cities have begun installing wind turbines. Buffalo, Le Sueur and Faribault have had wind turbines installed already. Anoka, Arlington, Brownton, Chaska, East Grand Forks, Olivia, Shakopee and Winthrop are up next. If everything goes as planned, all of the Minnesota Municipal Power Association wind turbines will be up and running by mid-November.

The St. Paul Convention & Visitors Authority has rolled out the "50-50 in 2" program. It is meant to cut trash output at the RiverCentre and Xcel Energy Center in half and push the recycling rate up to 50% in two years.

Three Minnesota schools took top marks on a national report card that measures colleges' sustainability efforts. The University of Minnesota, Carleton College in Northfield and Macalester College in St. Paul were three of 26 schools to score an A- on this fall's College Sustainability Report Card.

To meet federal clean water standards, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is considering ways to keep runoff and pollutants out of three west-metro lakes. Eagle Lake, a 291-acre lake popular for fishing and swimming, phosphorus would have to be reduced by 40% to meet Clean Water standards for swimming. The phosphorus levels in 81-acre Cedar Island Lake would have to be reduced by 67%. The 58-acre Pike Lake would need a 49 percent cut in phosphorus. The three lakes in Maple Grove and Plymouth are so polluted, it may take 20 years to get them off the state's impaired waters list.

In a similar move, Eden Prairie will repair two catch ponds at the base of the Minnesota River bluff to reduce storm water runoff and pollution from going into the river. The Lower Minnesota River Watershed District has also commissioned an engineering study on how storm water, groundwater and river water are interacting to erode the north bank of the river below the bluff, where Riverview Drive is located.

Land dedicated...

Got a Few Million Sitting Around?

Southways, the 13-acre former Pillsbury estate located on Lake Minnetonka's Smiths Bay, is being offered for sale in an auction. The 40,000-square-foot mansion stalled while listed on the market at $53.5 million.

The home includes a pool and tennis complex, smoking house, tea house, caretaker's cottage/greenhouse and caretaker's maintenance shop. It is available in its entirety or as five separate parcels of two-plus acres.

The 1918 property was originally owned by John S. and Eleanor Pillsbury, son and daughter-in-law of the co-founder of the grain producer and food-making giant. Eleanor Pillsbury died in 1991 at age 104, at which time James Jundt and his wife, Joann bought Southways.

Got the cash laying around? The sealed-bid deadline is December 9.

If that's not quite your style, please take a look at much-more reasonably priced Lake Minnetonka homes....

Community Highlights ~ Richfield MN

Richfield MN is one of the largest suburbs of the Twin Cities metro area, with a population of over 40,000. Named in 1908 for its fertile soil, Richfield still offers a rich and fruitful lifestyle more than a century later. Located nearly in the heart of the Twin Cities metro, Richfield offers a diverse range of activities to its residents.

Residents can easily hop on the freeway and be in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, Bloomington, or even at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in minutes.

Richfield MN offers the pleasures of upscale urban living with convenient access to the great local natural and green spaces. There are activities for anyone in the community to enjoy nearby at the 460 acres of parkland the City maintains. Their amenities include playgrounds, hiking trails, biking paths, pools and picnic areas. Richfield also has a state of the art community center, an outdoor waterpark, and a brand new skate park.

Raising a family or planning to? The U.S. Department of Education has recognized Richfield Senior High as a National School of Excellence, and the community offers a wide range of supportive services to ensure that all of its students get a good education.

Learn more about Richfield MN real estate....

Data Post October 22, 2009 - Forced vs. Unforced Registration Test

Website Data for October 15 - October 21, 2009

This is the 3rd week reporting our data and the results continue to be interesting.  Most pointedly this week is the total visitors and uniques are nearly identical for this reporting period.  The unforced site, continues to set new records for weekly traffic.  Just 3-weeks ago the unique visitors were 752, then in week 2 they increased to 964 and now they are at 1,103.  Could this be a result of the efforts of the SEO guru's at Real Estate Webmasters?  I think so...

Raw Data: (Unforced) (Forced)

 Total Visitors

 Unique Visitors
 1,103 1,149
 Avg Pages Viewed per Visitor
 12.5 11.5
 Avg Time on Site per Visitor
 9 minutes 23 seconds 6minutes 18 seconds
 Bounce Rate
 36% 40%
 IDX Registrations 740
 Showing Request Forms

Minneapolis and Saint Paul Among Best Cities for Families

The 100 Best (and Worst) Places to Raise a Family by Children's Health magazine ranks 100 American cities according to their family-friendliness. St. Paul came in at 12th and Minneapolis was 18th. Detroit was dead last. The magazine's editors developed the ranking formula assessing 29 quality-of-life variables including household income, unemployment, air quality, infant mortality, home prices and even the number of fast-food restaurants per capita.

Residents of the Twin Cities of course know that Saint Paul and Minneapolis are great places to live. Residents of other local communities and regular readers of this blog would also know that more Minnesota towns have appeared in similar lists this year.

In July, Sperling's Best Places and McDonald's Happy Meals ranked Minneapolis as the happiest, family-friendliest city in America. Also in July, Money Magazine named Chanhassen as one of the best places in the nation to live for "small towns," defined as having a population between 8,500 and 50,000. And, in July, Family Circle named Edina the Best Minnesota Community for Families, too.

In September, seven schools in Minnesota are among 314 nationwide to be designated by the U.S. Department of Education as Blue Ribbon Schools. The whole state of Minnesota was ranked second in an annual Kids Count assessment of children’s well-being in the U.S. ...

Saint Paul’s Downtown Neighborhood

Downtown St. Paul is bordered by the Mississippi River to the south, Marion Street to the west, University Avenue to the north, and Interstate 94 to the east.  With the Capitol just a few blocks, downtown St. Paul is an ideal location for government workers. Additionally, many state offices are located in the area.  Industrialized areas of Minneapolis and St. Paul are within short driving distance.  Easy access to I-94 connects you quickly with the rest of the Twin Cities.

Downtown St. Paul, which is also known as “Lowertown,” is home to many attractions, such as the Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota History Museum, and the Children's Museum.  Downtown also boasts the historical Landmark Center and the Ordway. The Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild NHL hockey team, is located on Kellogg Boulevard. Galtier Plaza, McNally Smith College of Music, and the Minnesota World Trade ...

Photo Friday - Fall Colors Along the Mississippi River

It has been cold. It has even been snowy. And not only did we get a crummy summer, we've almost been gypped out of fall, too.

But there have still some great autum colors in the trees, even if they are a little harder to spot around the Twin Cities right now.


These pictures were taken along the Mississippi River in northern Minneapolis. Or was it St. Paul? Actually I was standing on the bridge in between, so... take your pick!


There is still some time to see great color like this. The Minnesota DNR Fall Color Report map can give you a pretty good idea of where you can expect to see some nice fall colors.



The Pros Advantage is Taking Advantage of You!

Warning: Stay away from The Pros Advantage!

Today we received an inquiry through our website: that was alarming.  Someone thought we had stolen their website architecture...but the reality is they were swindled!  What's even worse, the person who was swindled is a local agent in our company.  Unbelievable.  I feel bad for the agent who was ripped off because he had no way of knowing that the Pros Advantage is a bunch of deadbeats.  Help us spread the word! Read more about what happened here.

Be warned:  "The Pros Advantage" is nothing more than a scam company that rips off designs and sells them as their own.  The reason I give this as a warning is that when you buy one of these ripped off designs, you risk being sued by the copyright owner! Don't believe me?  Click here to read more about what the Pros Advantage did wrong!

Webmasters that Do the RIGHT Thing:

Today I am even more confident in my decision to trust my website technology to the guru's at!  Morgan Carey and his crew are honest, trustworthy, creative, and knowledgeable and they don't deserve to have their hard work blatantly copied and sold as cheap imitations!  Keep up the good work Real Estate Webmasters!


Data Post October 15, 2009 - Forced vs Unforced Registration Test

Website Data for October 8 - October 14, 2009

We are only 2-weeks into our 3 month test and the results are already getting pretty interesting.  If you would like to review our Week 1 results, please Click Here.  A HUGE thanks to Cal Carter for posting his comments and some of his own numbers last week!  Below are Week 2 Raw Data and some thoughts from our perspective.

Raw Data:

... (Unforced) (Forced)

 Total Visitors

 1,189 1320
 Unique Visitors
 964 1076
 Avg Pages Viewed per Visitor
 14.3 12.3
 Avg Time on Site per Visitor
 9 minutes 41.3 seconds 7minutes 20.0 seconds
 Bounce Rate
 34% 40%
 IDX Registrations 434
 Showing Request Forms
 Property Inquiry Forms

Minnesota Schools in the News

Minnesota's students are near the best in the country when it comes to math, according to test results from the 2009 "Nation's Report Card," released by the U.S. Department of Education. Minnesota's fourth graders are in a statistical tie for first place with four other states, and the state's eighth graders are second only to Massachusetts. The math and reading tests are administered every two years. The reading results will be available in 2010.
Last year, Minnesota's fourth- and eighth-grade students were found to be near the top of the world in math and science on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). It showed that Minnesota's students were outperformed by only four of 36 countries in fourth-grade math, and five of 49 countries in eighth-grade math.

Also, check out the No Child Left Behind scores!

In the Twin cities metro area, St. Paul school district has also made headlines. Interim schools chief Suzanne Kelly, who became acting superintendent after Meria Carstarphen left the post in June, continues to push forward on student achievement, setting a goal of boosting test scores by an unprecedented 10% this year.

"If St. Paul is to prosper, our future citizens and leaders must be able to read and write fluently, compute and think critically, create new artistic designs and sounds, and respect cultural and racial diversity," Kelly said at the annual "State of the District" luncheon Tuesday in downtown St. Paul.
Though it is normal for cafes, colleges and universities to have wireless internet, one important place it isn't is most Minnesota high schools - at least not yet. Though wireless internet and handheld devices are everywhere, especially in the hands of teenagers, some local schools are just beginning to make short-range wireless Internet readily available to students with personal laptops....