Blockbuster stadium district project gets green light in Minneapolis

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The Minneapolis City Council today voted unanimously to approve the $400 million dollar development in downtown Minneapolis that has been the source of months of controversy.

Mayor R.T. Rybak hailed the deal. "We haven't dealt with a project of this scale in 22 years," he told the council, "and this will be the largest ownership stake in city history."

The deal will include:

  • Two 18-story office buildings that will offer Wells Fargo 1.2 million square feet of office space

  • 20,000 square feet of new retail space

  • As many as 300 new residential units

  • A 1,610 space parking ramp two blocks from the new Vikings stadium

  • A 2-block "Urban Park" on 4th Street, between 5th and Park avenues

  • A skyway connection from downtown to the new Vikings stadium

The project is being developed by Minneapolis-based Ryan Companies. The biggest chunk of the cost will be paid for by Wells Fargo. The bank says it's paying about $300 million for the project -- an "investment" it claims justifies relaxing the city's signage regulations, including new rooftop signs visible from the air.

The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) approved a deal with Ryan in July. As part of the Vikings project, the MSFA asked for a $49 million, 6 1/2 level parking ramp that will have at least 930 parking spaces for game-day parking. The MSFA has pledged $16.32 million the ramp. They've also asked for a skyway connection from the stadium, through the ramp to the city's Haaf parking ramp, and will pay $10.3 million for that.

The last piece of the project fell into place minutes ago, as 12 members of the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to approve their part of the deal. (Mayor-elect Betsy Hodges was not at the meeting.)

With the approval, the city will sell $65 million in bonds through its Port Authority. About $33 million of that will go to the stadium parking ramp, and $20 million will go toward land purchase and site preparation for the new park. The money will be repaid by parking revenue from the ramp, with an initial guarantee from Ryan.

All told, the estimated public costs are expected to be about $84 million.

Here are the proposed completion dates:

  • December, 2015 - Stadium parking ramp

  • January, 2016 -- Office towers

  • June, 2016 - Skyway connection to stadium

  • July, 2016 - New Vikings stadium, "Urban Park" established

Despite the approvals today, there are some questions unanswered:

  • The city of Minneapolis may have agreed to pay $20 million for the "Urban Park" being laid out between 5th and Park avenues, south of 4th Street downtown. But Ryan Cos. aren't saying what they paid the Star Tribune newspaper for that land -- or the block they're selling to the MSFA for a game-day parking ramp near the new stadium.

  • Ryan Cos. said earlier this week that the Star Tribune will be moving in early 2015, but publisher Michael Klingensmith declined to detail what locations they might be considering. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal has reported they are looking at Capella Tower.

  • Minneapolis mayor R.T. Rybak says the city has acquired the air rights above the stadium ramp at 4th and Park. He says the city has only about a dozen weeks to sell those off to a developer, so that the ramp design can be adjusted to accommodate what Rybak says could be an "icon" on the city skyline.

  • The city still has to amend signage regulations to allow proposed 56 ft by 56 ft Wells Fargo signs for roof of their new buildings.

The land deals for the project are expected to close Dec. 27.

Here's a summary of the deal from the City of Minneapolis

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