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Continued: Schafer: Downtown East plan 30 years in the making

  • Article by: LEE SCHAFER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 15, 2013 - 8:11 AM

Standing at the corner of Portland Avenue and S. 4th Street and looking toward the downtown, there is a virtual four-block wall on 5th Avenue S. that consists of a parking ramp, the county jail, a parking ramp and another parking ramp.

There are clear positives to the site, though, including having five blocks controlled by one owner. Then there is the stadium’s own parking ramp needs, a key to making this project work.

As described by the mayor at the news conference, part of the agreement between the Vikings in the state financing deal was a provision calling for parking for 2,000 cars near the stadium. Clearly it’s enormously costly to build a parking deck to be used just 10 days a year, but what if more than 5,000 office workers were a block away? They couldn’t all take light rail to work.

If all goes as planned, the city will issue bonds for ramp construction, with debt service paid by parking revenue from office workers parking there for work and football fans on fall weekends. Parking revenue would also help fund debt service on bonds to acquire and create the Yard, a two-block park that would be in front of its buildings and extend from the plaza in front of the stadium.

In addition to its plan to finance the office, residential and retail buildings privately, Ryan proposes to backstop the first 10 years of debt service on the bonds.

This may really be one of those rare big redevelopment projects in which the taxpayers’ checkbook stays in the drawer. But think of it as a chance to realize some additional returns on many past investments made in the city.

 

lee.schafer@startribune.com • 612-673-4302

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