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Ryan Companies proposes a $400 million redevelopment of five blocks now dominated by surface parking lots between the downtown central business district and the new Vikings stadium. This revised rendering includes an apartment building on the west end of the park space.

Ryan Cos.,

Nov. 13: Plan to revamp Downtown East advances

  • Article by: Janet Moore
  • Star Tribune
  • November 13, 2013 - 1:32 PM

Plans for a $400 million mixed-use development proposed for the eastern flank of downtown Minneapolis won needed approvals Tuesday night from the city’s Planning Commission, and its developer now must get the City Council to agree to its financing plan.

Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos. was granted a conditional-use permit and its site plan was approved for its Downtown East development after a public hearing at City Hall.

“We’re pleased,” said Rick Collins, Ryan’s vice president of development. “We have a few things to work out, but this is a victory for us.”

The next step in the pro­ject in­volves getting City Council approval for its financing, a mat­ter that is expected to be considered in com­ing weeks.

Plans for the first phase call for two 17-story office towers spanning 1.5 million square feet, 203 a­partments, re­tail and com­mer­cial space, a 1,625-stall parking gar­age and a public park that will span close to two city blocks in the shad­ow of the new $975 mil­lion Vi­kings sta­di­um.

Financial gi­ant Wells Fargo & Co. is interested in mov­ing about 5,000 of its employees to the of­fice por­tion of the pro­ject, but hasn’t offi­cial­ly signed on yet.

The five-block stretch is now oc­cu­pied by buildings and surface parking lots owned by the Star Tribune. Ryan hopes to fi­nal­ize a deal to buy the land from the me­di­a com­pany by year’s end.

Tues­day’s hear­ing on the Downtown East pro­ject last­ed near­ly two hours and was far more de­tailed that pre­vi­ous public re­views. The commission’s ap­prov­al for the conditional-use permit, which is need­ed be­fore build­ing per­mits are is­sued, came with a list of con­di­tions rang­ing from the type of soil to be used in the park (organic) to the design of the skyway spanning 5th Avenue S. The votes were unani­mous, with one mem­ber, Lauren Huynh, abstaining.

One ar­e­a of contention appeared to be flat rooftop signs bearing the Wells Fargo logo for the of­fice towers, which were o­rig­i­nal­ly listed as pro­hib­it­ed in the commission’s agenda.

Brent Han­son, vice president of corporate real estate for Wells Fargo, said, “we plan to invest over $300 million in this deal with the reasonable expectation that we would be allowed this type of sign.”

Commission member Gary Schiff noted the roof­top signs are “advertising view­able from a blimp, which is what this is all about.” The is­sue of the roof­top signs, which would be high­ly vis­i­ble dur­ing TV broadcasts of Vi­kings games, will likely be debated in the fu­ture.

 

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752

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