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Construction starts on Mpls. ‘Downtown East’ project

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Downtown East groundbreaking
A formal groundbreaking for the Downtown East project on Tuesday, May 13, 2014, featured Ryan Companies Vice President Mike Ryan, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, City Council President Barb Johnson, Wells Fargo regional President Dave Kvamme, CEO John Stumpf, Ryan Cos. CEO Pat Ryan, Vice President Rick Collins and Regional President Collin Barr. Tim Nelson / MPR News

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf on Tuesday officially kicked off construction of the new $400 million project his company will be moving into near the new Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Downtown East is part of a five-block transformation of the eastern edge of downtown, between the central business district and the new, $1 billion Vikings stadium already under construction.

"This is home," Stumpf said. "This is so wonderful for the city and the state, and we're just committed to this part of the world and we have great team members here."

About 5,000 Wells Fargo employees will be moving into two 18-story office towers, one located in the former Star Tribune parking lot in Minneapolis. Stumpf spoke there Tuesday along with Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Gov. Mark Dayton.

Dayton and Hodges hailed the bank's decision to stay in Minneapolis, after the bank contemplated a move to the suburbs in recent years.

The new development sits between the central business district and the new stadium. The project includes:

• A $400 million mixed use development

• 1.1 million square feet of new office space

• 193 market-rate apartments

• 24,000 square feet of commercial space, including retail and restaurants

• A six-level ramp with 1,610 parking spaces

• A two-block urban park

The project is expected to employ about 3,400 construction workers and be underway through 2016. It will also serve as an all-weather skyway link to the new NFL stadium and the central business district.

The construction is also helping another development, atop the parking ramp being built to accommodate football fans at Chicago Avenue and 4th Street. Builder Ryan Companies is working with Minneapolis officials. The company proposed a 150-room Radisson Red hotel and a 200-unit apartment tower, although Ryan Cos. vice president of development Tony Barranco said details are still being worked out.

"We're working with Magellan [Development] and with Carlson. And the project is very aggressive, so we have some work to do. But our intention is to work hard with those two partners and try to come up with a plan," Barranco said.

The work anchors a number of other projects that are coming together quickly in downtown Minneapolis. A new Target Field Station transit facility will open near the ballpark this weekend, and the new Green Line light rail line will be opening next month running east to downtown St. Paul.

A developer is also proposing a renovation of the historic Minneapolis Armory. United Properties, owned by the Pohlad family, is also planning an $80 million development with an amphitheater, retail and a public plaza just west of Target Field.

This animation from Ryan Cos. gives an idea of what the development will look like: