The Nicollet Mall project is nearly complete, but the cost of public relations for it is still rising.
Minneapolis will spend an extra $45,000 on communications consultants for the massive, yearslong project, a City Council committee decided Monday, adding four months to a one-year contract with a firm called Clear Night Group.
The original deal was for $50,000, and Monday’s decision, which must be approved by the full council, brings the cost of Clear Night Group’s services to $95,000.
The firm’s work has been “related to the media coverage” of the high-profile project, which should be “substantially complete” next month but has frayed nerves and hurt small businesses in downtown Minneapolis.
“I was just wondering why we would have this increase when the mall is supposed to be done next month and this would continue communication to April 15,” said Council Member Andrew Johnson, who flagged the item in a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee.
Don Elwood, director of Transportation, Engineering and Design for Minneapolis Public Works, said the city needs more outside help with communications to celebrate the milestones of the project, including a “substantial completion event” in December and updates to the project’s website.
“We just had more interaction needed, more updates on the webpage than I initially thought when I set up the contract,” Elwood said.
Two pieces of art will be installed on the mall in 2018, Elwood said, and the city will need help to “get the communication out on those.”
The Nicollet Mall project will still be under budget with the added public relations cost, Elwood said.
The committee passed the contract amendment on a unanimous voice vote.
The $50 million project, paid for through state bonds and private assessments, marks the first overhaul of the street since the early 1990s. Barricades on part of the mall came down Friday, signaling the project is nearly complete.
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