The City Council passed a final subsidy package for the Midtown Global Market Friday, forgiving $1.5 million in outstanding debt and paying $115,000 to continue free customer parking.
Mayor R.T. Rybak has fought to stabilize the market's finances before leaving office at the end of the year. The council challenged his $185,000 budget proposal to subsidize market operations, however, sending most of the money into a competitive grant program.
The parking support hung in the balance until Friday morning. Since opening in 2006, the market has offered free parking through a Hennepin County grant and financial support from ramp owner Ryan Cos. The market's manager says free parking is important to sustain the grocery business.
The council action only covers one hour of free, validated parking -- the current system allows customers to park for two hours without charge.
The city had loaned the market about $2.5 million, about $1 million of which was paid down. Forgiving the remainder is contingent on private lenders converting about $2.2 million into equity.
City officials projected that the market would be unable to pay the debt in the next 10 years. The market continues to operate at a deficit, though a much smaller one than several years ago.