Vikings stadium development plan moves through Mpls city panel

A key player in the massive development proposed near the Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis said he's encouraged by today's vote by a Minneapolis City Council committee to move the plan forward. The council's Community Development Committee approved a measure directing city staff to begin negotiations over land and property purchases near the Downtown East project.  Wells Fargo Minnesota CEO Dave Kvamme  says the company is working on a deal with developer Ryan Companies.  And he says it's important that the other key players in the deal, like the city of Minneapolis, show their support for the project.

"Should this project receive the necessary reviews and approvals and we can come to an agreement with Ryan, our goal is to become the owner of 12 stories in each of the two proposed 20-story towers," Kvamme said.

The full city council will vote on the measure next week.  But city officials say the council will have to approve other parts of the funding plan in the coming months.

Ryan's vice president of development, Rick Collins, said even though the votes today and next week are on the concept of the plan, they are an important first step.

"In a project that is as complicated as this and has as many parties involved in it as this one does, it's important that we have milestones along the way to let us know that we are on the right track," said Collins.

Under the plan, Ryan will privately finance $350 million for office residential and retail development.  The city will finance $65 million of project costs including a nearby parking ramp.

The ramp will be owned by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Authority, which will use revenue generated by the ramp to pay back the city.

Mayor RT Rybak said if the ramp's revenue falls short in the first 10 years, the developer will pay the city's debt.  If the ramp doesn't generate revenue after that, Rybak insisted the city still would break even due to the amount of tax revenue  generated by the rest of the development.

"If property values only go up one percent in town and we only bring in $30 million in additional property taxes, and if nobody parks in that ramp it's kind of a wash.  That's the absolute worst case scenario.  It's a wash with a park," Rybak said.

The public park, called The Yard, will be covered in part with the $65 million.  City officials say the park will require an additional $10-$15 million in capital expenditures, which they may be able to raise through philanthropic organizations.

The Yard, as it is currently designed, would close off two main thoroughfares, Park and Portland Avenues.  Both fall under the authority of Hennepin County.  According to a city report, "based on conversations with the County, there is little interest at this time in permanent closure."  However the report suggests the streets can be closed temporarily during Vikings games and other special events to provide "continuity to the Yard."

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