Bracing for the crush of more than a million visitors expected to descend on Minneapolis for Super Bowl LII, the city is quietly wrapping up construction work in areas likely to attract big crowds.
Crews are tidying up construction sites along Washington and Nicollet avenues, where two major multiyear projects were completed before a three-month city moratorium on construction and maintenance on downtown public streets and sidewalks went into effect on Nov. 13.
Developers have met the deadline, if only grudgingly.
Council Member Lisa Goodman aired her frustration with the ban at a subcommittee hearing Wednesday, relating a developer’s unsuccessful efforts to secure permission to cap a gas line at the site of a 183-unit development planned for W. 15th Street and Nicollet Avenue in Loring Park.
“I understand why they put this moratorium into place, but I think there needs to be some common sense,” Goodman said later. “We can’t as a city punish the people who live and do business here because of the Super Bowl.”
Local construction firms are already on edge, she said, worried that changes to the federal tax code would put affordable housing developments like the Loring Park project at risk.
Ryan Lunderby, vice president of the site’s developer, Plymouth-based Dominium, said even though the project will continue throughout the winter — considered the slow season — the moratorium is expected to set back its construction schedule by about a month.
“Our project is definitely impacted by the moratorium for the Super Bowl,” he said Friday. “We can’t move on all fronts.”
Downtown Council President Steve Cramer said most developers have known about the moratorium for months and have moved up construction timetables accordingly.
“The city was actually really proactive as it relates to communicating — they did a really good job trying to get out in front of this,” said Chad Rempe, senior project manager for Kraus-Anderson Construction. “While we may not love it, at least we knew what to expect and when to expect it.”
Rempe, who is overseeing a multi-use development that includes a hotel, apartments, a brewery and the construction company’s new headquarters, said the ban meant that crews had to work quickly to make the area pedestrian-friendly in the lead-up to the game.
“We had to provide, even in a temporary state, no less than a 6-foot walkway for pedestrians, if we weren’t going to be done with a sidewalk,” Rempe said.
A Super Bowl Host Committee spokesman declined to comment on Friday.
The moratorium was first announced last July.
The city’s public works director, Robin Hutcheson, wrote in a letter to other officials that to ensure visitors’ access to downtown, the city would be “restricting all construction operations and maintenance activities in the public street/sidewalk rights of way for the 2018 Super Bowl” until Feb. 5, the day after the game — in an area roughly bounded by W. River Parkway, 4th Avenue N., 15th Street and 13th Avenue S., and on some streets. Hutcheson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning.
A similar ban was imposed before last summer’s X Games, seen as a dry run of sorts for the Super Bowl. Downtown construction is also expected to halt during next year’s version of the action sports extravaganza, as well as when the Final Four comes to town in 2019.