A Minneapolis city council committee voted unanimously Tuesday to forgive more than $1 million in debt owed to the city by the Midtown Global Market. The proposal stipulates that the debt only comes off the books if the Lake Street market’s other lenders do the same. A representative from one of the lenders, Wells Fargo, said the bank is reviewing that option.
Even if lenders decide against forgiving all the debt, the city will allow the market to defer loan payments for ten years.
Council member Gary Schiff said debt relief for the market will help secure its viability for years to come.
“I can’t think of anything more powerful that we could do as a council than to help Midtown Global Market with long term debt,” said Schiff. “It will help their fundraising. It will help their long term stability. And it signals, I think, a new era of stability for the market that will be able to move on into the future.”
The committee postponed a vote on a free parking subsidy for the market.
Community Development Committee chair Lisa Goodman said she is willing to work out a compromise where the city might subsidize part of the parking cost while market merchants pick up another portion.
A plan to build a private golf athletic facility and non-profit youth center on top of two parking garages in downtown Minneapolis moved forward today for the first time since it was proposed in 1998.
The Minneapolis Transportation and Public Works Committee on Tuesday approved rights to the developer, Downtown Rooftop Golf, LLC and Downtown Rooftop Youth Center to begin negotiations with the city and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to work out details on leasing the air space eight stories high.
Adjacent to Target Center, the two ramps are the city-owned Hawthorne Transportation Center, and the MnDOT-owned Seventh Street Third Avenue Distributor Ramp A.
The project is expected to cost between $70 million and $80 million and will be privately funded, along with grants for the non-profit portion, according to the committee’s report.
Elwyn Tinklenberg, a former state transportation commissioner working as a consultant on the project, said the first part of the project is the youth center, in the northwest area of the space.
“This is not incidental to the project, this is the heart and soul of this project,” Tinklenberg said to the committee at Tuesday’s meeting.
The center will provide space for classrooms, enrichment programming and mentorship, and will be located next to the for-profit athletic facilities centered around golf, for use by youth for sports and entertainment.
In the middle of the rooftop space, the golf entertainment center will include a driving range, indoor putting areas, simulators, conference space, performance area, club house and training facilities, locker rooms, food and beverage facilities, playing fields, and walking and running tracks.
“You’ve heard it described as a driving range — it’s much more than that,” Tinklenberg said.
Project staffers hope to put together details on design, partnerships, and financing in 2014, and start construction in 2015, Tinklenberg said. Construction is expected to last between 18 months and two years.
On the far end of the Hawthorne Ramp, the developer is proposing an outdoor green space and park performance area above the ramp.
Tinklenberg said the developer will partner with the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Public Schools, and community groups to set up opportunities for youth in the facility. He said there will be a large indoor play area for soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, archery — “anything else you can imagine.”
The space will be flexible to accommodate as many activities as possible, Tinklenberg added.
The project had been stuck for about 15 years while the city and MnDOT worked on a way to allow lease of the space above the ramps.
“After so many years of trying unsuccessfully to get control of this site, now we can move forward,” Tinklenberg said.
Responding to safety concerns near the University of Minnesota campus, Minneapolis police are hosting a public safety walk tonight through neighborhoods near campus.
Officers hope residents will come out and share ways to prevent crime, such as identifying areas that need more light, said Nick Juarez, a crime prevention specialist for Minneapolis police’s second precinct. Officers will also offer safety tips and ask people to turn on their porch lights to create a “walking corridor” along some routes near campus, Juarez said.
Campus crime fell by 43 percent from 2002 through 2012, university officials say, although there have been a rise in crimes on and off campus this fall. Some of those crimes have been particularly brazen. Those include an assault on Nov. 27. As a University of Minnesota student walked alone near TCF Bank Stadium just after midnight, a man got out of a car and tried to kidnap her, according to a university police crime alert. The student fought back with pepper spray, but the man turned it on her and pushed her to the ground before driving away.
Three days earlier, according to another crime alert, another student was taken into an SUV and sexually assaulted by a man who posed as an officer early on a Sunday morning — just blocks from the commotion of Dinkytown.
A student-led online petition calling for increased security on and near campus has received more than 3,500 signatures.
A state Senate panel will meet Tuesday to discuss safety on metro area college campuses.
The U has boosted police presence around campus and increased service availability of the Gopher Chauffer, a free ride home service for students on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Some, though, say more could be done to address the recent assaults and robberies.
State Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis, who represents some neighborhoods around the U campus, said she’s heard from concerned parents of U students.
“Some have commented on how a lot of the students are doing what they’re supposed to do — they are walking in groups — and they’re still just nervous,” she said.
Investigators looking for a man, or possibly two men, who impersonated a police officer and sexually assaulted two women are reminding people that any real officer will tell you his or her name and law enforcement agency. That’s one of the tips Anoka County Commander Paul Sommer shared with me today regarding your rights in Read more →