Some of the Twin Cities’ most recognizable corporations have kicked in to build the new park on the east end of downtown Minneapolis, helping to get the project about halfway to its financial goal, fundraisers said Tuesday.
The two-block park, called the Commons, is the hallmark of the Downtown East redevelopment project near the new U.S. Bank Stadium. But it has been challenging to pull together because of questions about funding and maintenance.
With just six months to go until the target construction start date, the conservancy group charged with raising the money — Green Minneapolis — has gathered $10.5 million of the $22 million required. That’s enough to complete the underground infrastructure, plant grass and build some of the sidewalks, cement features and landscaping.
Target Corp., Land O’Lakes, Thrivent Financial, Veit USA, Xcel Energy, Carlson and the Carlson Family Foundation are among the new contributors.
These smaller donations, in addition to the Minnesota Vikings’ recent decision to give an extra $2 million on top of a previous $1 million, were added to the $7 million contributed by the city of Minneapolis, Ryan Cos. and Wells Fargo & Co.
“Minnesota has a unique history of corporate participation in the community, and that is strongly reinforced today,” Pat Ryan, CEO of Ryan Cos. and co-chair of the Downtown East Commons Fundraising Committee, said in a statement.
The Minneapolis business community has been asked to pony up money for the park. Last fall, city leaders openly criticized the Vikings organization for not contributing more money — highlighting the benefits the team will reap from the park agreement, including up to 80 days of use in a typical year.
As a result of the team’s recent contribution, Vikings owner and President Mark Wilf will join the public-private fundraising committee, which is a separate entity from Green Minneapolis.
“The Downtown East Commons will not only be an integral part of the Vikings game- day experience but a place the community will enjoy throughout the year,” Wilf said in a statement. “We are proud to provide ongoing support to this endeavor, and I am personally looking forward to working with the fundraising committee to bring this project to fruition.”
Landscaping work, conceived by the San Francisco-based Hargreaves Associates landscape architecture firm, is supposed to start by June 30. The city is scheduled to take control of the land from Ryan Cos. by July 31. By then, city officials hope to hand over park responsibility to another entity, likely Green Minneapolis, that has more fundraising leeway.
“If this park is to be choreographed as anticipated, and is to receive the type of maintenance and care it deserves, you need the experts to be in charge and you need them to be doing it full time and that requires the conservancy model,” said Council Member Jacob Frey, who represents the area.
The Minneapolis Park Board voted against operating the park in 2014, citing high costs and concern that it wouldn’t be a true public park with the Vikings use agreement in place.