The Minneapolis Downtown Council has named its first executive director of Greening Downtown Minneapolis, a newly created entity charged with raising the money needed to create The Commons, a 4.2-acre park planned near the new Vikings stadium.

By naming Winthrop (Win) Rockwell, a partner at the Minneapolis heavyweight law firm of Faegre Baker Daniels to the role, the Downtown Council has taken its first tangible step in spearheading fundraising efforts for the estimated $20 million needed to create an ambitious park design.

The Commons park is the central fixture of the five-block Downtown East project and is the linchpin that many private developers are counting on for the success of redevelopment efforts.

While the area's private investment -- including the two 17-story Wells Fargo towers, apartments, hotel and retail -- is being led by Ryan Cos., Greening Downtown Minneapolis (GDM) was formed because no other public or private entity was willing to take the lead on the park portion. The Minneapolis Park Board voted against involvement in August, leaving the park in the City of Minneapolis' purview.

After the city hired San Francisco-based landscape architect Hargreaves Associates, the Downtown Council, a business and downtown booster association, stepped up and agreed to pass the hat among the stakeholders. 

Rockwell will broker support from the city, the Park Board, Hennepin County and the private sector.

Outside of his experience in product liability and commercial contract litigation, Rockwell currently serves on the boards of The Great Plains Institute, The Trust for Public Land and the University of Minnesota Energy Transition Lab.

The intent is for GDM's goals to extend beyond The Commons initiative.

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