Minneapolis park commissioners are poised to buy a hunk of land next to the west end of the Lowry Avenue Bridge.
The purchase represents the biggest parkland purchase on the West Bank of the upper Mississippi riverfront since current redevelopment plans were adopted.
The Park Board is expected to approve the $2.5 million deal at its meeting Wednesday night.
The purchase of the 350 feet of riverfront between the bridge’s western approach and a major scrap yard represents the first beachhead for park development on the West Bank between North Mississippi Regional Park to the north and Ole Olson Park on the old Riverview Supper Club site to the south.
Long-term park plans included extending recreational paths, a parkway and a ribbon of parkland along both sides of the river. Space for that was left beneath the west end of the bridge when it was reconstructed recently.
“I’m just happy to have another one checked off the list,” Park Board President Liz Wielinski said about the purchase.
The land will be across 31st Avenue North from Northern Metal Recycling, which receives, sorts and pulverizes scrap metals. A park official said that an air quality monitor installed to detect violations of air particles will remain atop the warehouse occupying one of three parcels involved in the purchase. A staff memo said that existing business tenants have leases into 2016, and that a property manager would be hired to run the property. Any income above expenses would be devoted to helping pay for the deal and eventual demolition and cleanup costs, staff recommended.
The Park Board said it is talking to Metro Council officials about using regional park funding to pay for part of the purchase, and hopes for aid from the area’s watershed organization. The remaining gap would be financed as a contract for deed, and eventually a mortgage, under a staff recommendation.
The purchase would mean that another major riverfront industry, the GAF roofing materials plant just north of Lowry, would be bracketed by public land. The city-owned Upper Harbor Terminal lies north of GAF and is expected to include both a business park and riverfront parks once money is raised for cleanup and utility relocation costs.
Wielinski said that buying parkland on the river’s upper West Bank has been more challenging than in the northeast riverfront, where the Park Board has snapped up small and large business parcels and houses. “They tend to cost a lot more and have existing businesses on them,” she said of the West Bank.
Representatives of GAF and Northern Metal Recycling didn’t respond to requests for comment.