Ignoring a last-minute offer from the Minnesota Vikings, the City Council voted to give Ryan Companies the right to develop a key parcel of land in downtown east Friday.
If Ryan completes the apartment building they have proposed for the site, the developer would pay the city $3 million for their use of the parcel tucked beside a new, publicly-financed parking ramp. That's $2.6 million less than they promised this spring, before a more complex deal including a hotel fell through.
Hoping to win the rights away from Ryan, the Minnesota Vikings offered $8.1 million in a modified proposal distributed to council members during Friday's meeting. That's up from a previous offer of $4.6 million.
The council did not acknowledge the Vikings' new offer during Friday's deliberations, however.
Precisely how much is garnered from the air rights is important for city officials, since that money is needed to fund a great deal of the downtown east park across the street. That park will cost between $6.3 and $10.5 million, only about
$2.1 million $1 million of which is accounted for without the development rights money.
“We want to build something as big as we can and as fast as we can to generate these benefits for the city," said Council Member John Quincy.
The parcel in question sits on 4th Street between Park and Chicago Avenues (see diagram below). That site is now occupied by a building formerly owned by the Star Tribune. The block will eventually be home to a parking ramp required by the stadium legislation.
Ryan still faces hurdles ahead, such as reaching a deal to build an extra level of parking above the stadium ramp for its tenants. The Vikings have expressed concern about how that will impact game day traffic, though the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority -- which will own the ramp -- is optimistic that it won't kill the deal.
"Although this was an important milestone, it's still the first part in a very complex project," said Ryan vice president Tony Barranco after the vote. "And we still have to get to work tomorrow with all the same stakeholders involved."
Ryan had previously hoped to use some of the 1,600 spots in the stadium parking ramp for its tenants, but was told this was not legally possible. Those spots are expected to accommodate stadium attendees as well as Wells Fargo employees.
How often the stadium ramp gets used is important, since its parking revenues are committed to paying back the city's debt on the project. Ryan has backed any shortfalls for the first 10 years.
The Vikings said in a statement that the city missed an opportunity, but it will work to make the multi-faceted downtown east project a success.
“In the team’s view, our proposal provided the City and its taxpayers with the best bargain and certainty of performance,” said Vikings stadium project executive Don Becker. “The City’s decision today to move forward on the developer’s proposal will not alter the Vikings steadfast commitment to working with the City and other stakeholders to ensure that the Ramp is built without delay and in a manner that protects the significant public and private investment in the stadium, its operations and the City Park.”