New plan for Peavey Plaza: Add a wheelchair ramp

Minneapolis hopes to repair Peavey Plaza, now that it has given up plans to demolish it.

The city’s ambitions for the space have been scaled back, and they’re now limited to catching up on deferred maintenance and adding a wheelchair ramp.

(MPR File Photo/Jeffrey Thompson)

The City Attorney’s Office has reached a settlement with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, which sued to block the demolition. Under the agreement, which must be ratified by the City Council, Minneapolis would “acknowledge the law that rehabilitation of the Plaza must be consistent with applicable historic preservation standards.”

Preservationists consider Peavey to be a seminal work of modernist landscape architecture. After filing the lawsuit, they successfully lobbied to have it placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Minneapolis now needs to find funding to renovate the plaza, which has fallen into disrepair. The pumps that power its iconic fountains are broken, and its concrete is cracked. Beyond those repairs, the only improvement under consideration is adding a wheelchair ramp, to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The big question that remains is: Are we going to be able to raise the money for that work,” said Chuck Lutz, deputy director of Community Planning and Economic Development.

The city originally pursued demolition in part because officials believed private donors would be more keen on underwriting a brand new plaza than on spiffing up an old one. The city hasn’t figured out what the scaled-back plan would cost, yet.

A city council committee will discuss the settlement this afternoon.