Minneapolis mulling an “Ultimate Park” for Vikings stadium district

City_DayThe inquiry by Minneapolis mayoral candidate Cam Winton about stadium area development cost estimates got an interesting reply from the city.

Winton released an 8-page document, The “Ryan Companies US, Inc. Proposal for East Village Park, Parking and Infrastructure Funding,” which has details about the proposed $400 million development set for the Star Tribune’s land next to the stadium. It’s expected to include office, retail and residential elements, as well as a park abutting the plaza of the new “People’s Stadium.”

The document describes several park options.

A “basic” plan that would clean off the site, replace it with grass and reconfigure Park and Portland avenues into narrow streets that can be closed on game days and off-peak traffic hours. The document also lists a second option, termed the “Ultimate Park,” but doesn’t offer any detail on what turns a park from basic to ultimate, other than a tiny mention of fundraising by the Trust for Public Land.

“We have not yet engaged a landscape architect to come up with the details,” explains Chuck Lutz, deputy director of the Community Planning and Economic Development office in Minneapolis. He says possibilities include some kind of water feature, equipment or park shelters. “We don’t really know yet, because we don’t know what it will look like.” Lutz said the title “ultimate” is more of a “term of art” than a literal description. He says the upgrade will likely cost between $10 and $15 million.

Rick Collins,vice president of development at Ryan, isn’t ready to commit to that yet, either.

“We believe it is too preliminary to try to put a budget together for either the capital required to complete the “ultimate park”, or the annual operating funding required to offset operating costs (after using funds derived from park programming).  These budgets can be completed after resolution of the public conversation about the desired programming of the park and making the decisions described above.”

cam wintonThe document also redacts the estimated cost of the deal’s key real estate, the five blocks of Star Tribune land where the park and the Ryan development will sit west of the stadium. City officials cited routine non-disclosure for prospective real estate deals in which public bodies might be involved. Winton says he would like to see the city disclose the prices, and at the very least he’d like to know the costs of the park land that the city “or other public or non-profit entity” may be on the hook for come 2016.

Given the history of stadium financing so far, Winton says, it behooves the city to set terms before possibly involving taxpayers in the purchase.

Here’s the letter, with lots of nitty gritty on the financing of the stadium district development:

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