What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to suzanne.ziegler@startribune.com.

Council passes $400 million plan for downtown east

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: December 13, 2013 - 4:27 PM

The City Council unanimously passed a massive plan Friday to transform the east side of downtown by building Wells Fargo office towers, apartments, retail, a park and a parking ramp next to the new Vikings stadium.

The $400 million development would take shape on five blocks of land currently owned by the Star Tribune. Friday's approval from the City Council was joined by earlier approval from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is contributing money to the deal.

The development is not completely wrapped up, however. A Hennepin County judge is weighing a last-minute legal challenge, which he is expected to rule on next week. (UPDATE: The judge dismissed most of the arguments Friday afternoon)

The city portion of the deal involves borrowing up to $65 million to fund the parking ramp and part of the nearly two block public park. The Authority is also paying $10 million for skyways, and about $16 million for the parking ramp.

"We stand at the brink of doing something I believe is quite remarkable, which is to literally transform a part of town," Mayor R.T. Rybak, the primary champion of the deal, said before the vote. "I love a lot of things in this city, but I don't love vacant parking lots in places where there could be vitality."

The debt to pay for the park and parking ramp is expected to be paid back by parking revenues from two parking ramps. The plan proved much more popular among the council than the polarizing Vikings stadium legislation.

"This is the type of development that happens once in a political generation," said Council Member Gary Schiff, the most vocal stadium opponent on the council. "And it only happens because the timing comes together with the financing. This is being financed right."

A key remaining question is how to pay for improvements in the park beyond basic elements. That effort is expected to rely on fundraising, though Mayor R.T. Rybak said Friday that the sale of development rights above the new parking lot could garner more money for the park.

A last-minute snag to the project concerned whether Wells Fargo would be able to install two square signs atop its office towers, likely viewable during aerial shots of football games. The Vikings, who had to sign off on the deal, eventually relented.

An ordinance change allowing for those signs will have to wait until next year, however, since it was introduced too late to clear several legislative hurdles.

Ryan's purchase agreement with the Star Tribune expires on Dec. 27, which is also Wells Fargo's deadline for the deal to be finalized. Wells Fargo vice president Brent Hanson said Friday they hope to sign the deal with Ryan to own the buildings next week, and won't wait until the judge rules on the legal challenge.

Hanson said they are still in the "planning process" as to where the roughly 5,000 employees expected to occupy the office towers will come from. "Anything is on the table right now," Hanson said.

In his last days in office, Rybak will seek to sell the city's development rights above the new six- or seven-story parking ramp, which will feature views of a stadium, park and river. He envisioned it possibly becoming a hotel, residential building or office space.

"I'll be meeting with a developer who's coming in from out of town today. Another one is coming in Monday," Rybak said. "And there are many from this city that will be looking at it as well."

He added: "If I wasn't an almost-broke former mayor, I'd go bid on it myself."

  • 52
  • Comments

  • Results per page:

ADVERTISEMENT

Miami - LP: M. Dunn 1 FINAL
Atlanta - WP: D. Carpenter 3
Arizona - WP: T. Cahill 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: P. Strop 5
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 12 FINAL
Colorado - LP: C. Bettis 10
Texas - WP: M. Perez 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 0
Houston - LP: J. Fields 3 FINAL
Seattle - WP: F. Rodney 5
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 5 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: C. Morton 2
LA Angels - LP: E. Frieri 4 FINAL
Washington - WP: D. Storen 5
Kansas City - LP: K. Herrera 3 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: B. Shaw 5
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 10 FINAL
Toronto - LP: T. Redmond 8
Chicago WSox - WP: A. Rienzo 6 FINAL
Detroit - LP: E. Reed 4
St. Louis - LP: M. Wacha 2 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 3
Minnesota - WP: C. Fien 6 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Lueke 4
NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 1 FINAL
Boston - WP: J. Lackey 5
San Diego - LP: T. Ross 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: K. Lohse 5
Philadelphia - LP: C. Hamels 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: Z. Greinke 5
Charlotte 97 FINAL
Miami 101
Dallas 113 FINAL
San Antonio 92
Portland 112 FINAL
Houston 105
Pittsburgh 3 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Dallas 4
St. Louis 3 FINAL(OT)
Chicago 4
Houston 0 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2013 preseason     
Aug 9 - vs. Houston 7 pmX27-13
Aug 16 - at Buffalo 6 pmX20-16
Aug 25 - at San Francisco 7 pmX34-14
Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee 7 pmX24-23
2013 regular season     
Sep 8 - at Detroit NoonX34-24
Sep 15 - at Chicago NoonX31-30
Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland NoonX31-27
Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London) NoonX34-27
Oct 6 - Bye
Oct 13 - vs. Carolina NoonX35-10
Oct 21 - at. NY Giants 7:40 pmX23-7
Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay 7:30 pmX44-31
Nov 3 - at Dallas NoonX27-23
Nov 7 - vs. Washington 7:25 pmX34-27
Nov 17 - at Seattle 3:25 pmX41-20
Nov. 24 - at Green Bay Noon26-26
Dec 1 - vs. Chicago NoonX23-20
Dec 8 - at Baltimore NoonX29-26
Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia NoonX48-30
Dec 22 - at Cincinnati NoonX42-14
Dec 29 - vs. Detroit NoonX14-13

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How many regular season games will Vikings win?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT