Minneapolis' North Loop has never had a neighborhood park, but that could change by July 1 if the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board closes on a half-acre surface parking lot.

Last week a Park Board committee unanimously approved a proposal to acquire 25,000 square feet at 747 3rd St. N. for $2.1 million from BC Properties LLC, a Schafer Richardson company.

Schafer Richardson plans to develop parcels on either side of the parking lot into multifamily mixed-use buildings of the sort that have rapidly transformed the North Loop into an ultradense residential neighborhood over the past decade. The developer wants green space for tenants. The Park Board wants to create a public park where several studies have identified the need.

According to the Trust for Public Land's ParkScore index, 98% of Minneapolis residents live within a 10-minute walk to their nearest park. Buying this land would help the Park Board narrow that 2% gap, said Adam Arvidson, strategic planning manager for the Park Board.

Opportunities to create a park in the North Loop are dwindling as the cost of land in the North Loop climbs. While Schafer Richardson originally purchased the parking lot at about $100 per square foot, the Park Board has seen land sales in the North Loop range from slightly less than that to as high as $150 per square foot, Arvidson said. Under its proposed deal with Schafer Richardson, the Park Board would pay below market value at just $80 a square foot.

Schafer Richardson will also rip out the parking lot, restore the soil, and install irrigated turf grass for about $190,000 — cheaper than what the Park Board believes it will find through a competitive bidding process — before transferring the land.

"We do want to build out more park amenities in the future, but at the moment we're unable to do that," Arvidson said. "And so this allows us to at least create some green space this summer, on day one of Park Board ownership in the North Loop."

According to lawyer Greg Soule, who is representing the Park Board in the land deal, state law will enable the board to avoid paying 2022 taxes on the parcel if it closes before July 1.

"I'm so excited to see this happening," said Commissioner Steffanie Musich during the committee meeting on March 17. "As someone that worked downtown for 15 years, the lack of green spaces for people to be in was really glaring, especially now that there's so much housing going in and a lot more people there."

The full board vote on the proposal is scheduled for April.

Susan Du • 612-673-4028