Ryan, Vikings add millions to bid for stadium district development

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The City of Minneapolis released this new rendering of the Ryan Cos. proposed stadium district development.

Plans for a $400 million mixed-use development, parking ramps and a new downtown park are getting a little closer to winning approval in Minneapolis.

The Vikings have agreed to donate $1 million to plans for a city park where the Star Tribune's offices stand, Mayor R.T. Rybak said this morning.

Ryan Cos., the developer of the project west of the new Vikings stadium, has also agreed to $3.7 million in concessions on its side of the deal.

Rybak said the project had been made more difficult by rising interest rates that will impact the bonds Minneapolis plans to use to finance the project. The city plans to issue about $65 million in bonds to finance its projects and a parking ramp owned by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority.

The project is ready for formal, full council approval before the end of the year, Rybak told council members Thursday morning.

"It's the largest office development in 22 years, one of the largest in Minneapolis history," he told a City Council committee. The plan calls for two 20-story office towers; 40,000 square feet of retail, 300 units of housing and skyways connecting the central business district and the new Vikings stadium.

Ryan Cos. confirmed today that it has "substantially negotiated" an agreement with Wells Fargo for the bank to purchase much of the development.

"We don't have a fully executed agreement. That will await the final approvals that come in the next 10 days or so," said Ryan Cos. vice president for development Rick Collins.

Rybak and the Vikings also said that signs -- including rooftop branding for Wells Fargo just a block from the new stadium -- remain a sticking point. The Vikings have called the plan "ambush marketing," because they contend prominent Wells Fargo signs may encroach on the naming rights at the team's new stadium.

Vikings vice president Lester Bagley and Collins, with Ryan Cos., says negotiations are ongoing over what Collins called a "graphic" planned for the building's roof.

City council members expressed concern that the Vikings and their donation may present a similar problem in the proposed new park.

"I just really do not want to see Mall of America Field Park," said City Council member Sandy Colvin Roy.

Rybak said there may be some commemorative-type notation of contributors, and a potential retail tenant, like the Sea Salt or Tin Fish restaurants in other city parks. He added that he doesn't anticipate the park to be named after a sponsor, in part at the Vikings request.

"Millennium Park (in Chicago)  is the model we've been looking at," Rybak said. "We're going to acquire the land, mitigate the property on that, that's about $20 million, and then we'll have about a half a million dollars to begin building the park." Rybak said in a briefing on the project today. "We can move that park from good to great. We're going to do a public campaign, and ... there will be a $1 million donation from the Vikings to start that campaign."

Rybak said that he will help lead that effort, even after he leads office next month.

He also said that the city will have the air rights over a proposed parking ramp across the street from the new stadium, and that he hopes to help sell that to a developer this spring, before the parking ramp goes into final design.

"I plan to spend my time between now and the end of the year, on the phone and in person, telling people that this is potentially one of the great marquee tower sites that this city will ever have," Rybak said. "It will be an icon on the skyline." He said he'll continue push for a development, also after he leaves office next month.

The proposed project got a going-over at a City Council committee of the whole meeting, but won't get a vote until next week. It is scheduled to go before the council for final approval that Friday.