The East Downtown business community in Minneapolis is brimming with enthusiasm over the prospect of having the Ryan Cos. develop the Star Tribune property in the heart of its district and next to the Vikings stadium development.
There are few development opportunities in the history of Minneapolis that carry the potential of completely (and simultaneously) reshaping 16 contiguous city blocks into a cohesive new vision. The East Downtown Council board hopes the Ryan project will be a trigger for additional development to replace the many surface parking lots within our district.
The 20-story office towers could serve as an important bridge of size and scale between the core financial district and the new stadium. The 300 units of housing, 40,000 square feet of retail space, proposed streetscape, skyway and parking ramp design considerations all serve to demonstrate Ryan’s commitment to creating a unique convergence of mixed-use urban design and transit development.
As everyone considers the specifics of the 8.9-acre urban park portion of the Ryan proposal, our leadership board encourages innovative planning and programming solutions that create a true destination park connecting downtown with the stadium district. We also urge great caution about closing major arterial streets that connect our businesses and residential communities.
Additionally, we invite everyone to think about “the whole” of park development in downtown. Consider the many existing, valuable park assets in our various neighborhoods along with creating new public gathering spaces. Consider using a variety of green amenities such as green spines, micro parks, dog parks, and wide sidewalks convenient for cafes and gatherings. Such things will strengthen connections between the riverfront, the great cultural and entertainment venues in the neighborhood, housing and jobs — all to create a vital and thriving city center.
Thinking about the whole will help bring a more realistic set of expectations for a new park and catalyze new connective greening initiatives that have the potential to infuse the entire downtown with a culture of celebrating the outdoors in an urban environment.
The writer is president of the East Downtown Council.