There is light at the end of the multiplying construction detours in downtown Minneapolis, city leaders stressed Wednesday as they officially launched the Nicollet Mall overhaul.
At a news conference outside IDS Center, public officials and downtown business representatives put a positive spin on the unusual amount of construction occurring in and around the downtown area. At least 12 major public or private projects are underway in downtown, at the Hennepin-Lyndale bottleneck and at the University of Minnesota.
“I know that there is a lot of construction downtown and that sometimes it is inconvenient to find your way, especially if you’re in a car,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said. “But what I will say is this: We as a city worked very hard for this problem.”
Downtown business leaders and the city’s taxpayer-supported tourism bureau, Meet Minneapolis, simultaneously announced the creation of a “Minneapolis Big Build” campaign. Signs will be featured around town, pointing people to MplsBuild.com with descriptions of each project, from construction on multiple roads and U.S. Bank Stadium to renovations at Target Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
“We know there’s a level of frustration about the disruption that’s occurred downtown,” said Steve Cramer, CEO of the Downtown Council. The new campaign will “showcase the positive aspect of what will happen here as these projects come to completion.”
The first phase of the Nicollet Mall redesign is now underway, following months of utility work. It will begin with sidewalk removal at the southern edge of the Mall, with construction moving north toward the Mississippi River. Pedestrians will be able to use the mall throughout the project.
Some blocks of Nicollet will be complete by later this year, Cramer said. The project will be largely finished by November 2017.