Preservation panel blocks Star Tribune building demolition

The Star Tribune building earlier this year. MPR Photo Tim Nelson

The Strib’s Eric Roper says the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission has turned back a staff recommendation to approve tearing down the newspaper’s Portland Avenue offices to make room for a new $400 million multi-use development near the new Vikings stadium.

The 10-member panel, which includes former Star Tribune staff writer and architecture critic Linda Mack, turned down the application for “Demolition of a Historic Resource” by the Ryan Companies, the developer that’s planning to buy the newspaper’s property December 27th and tear down the buildings to make way for its Downtown East project.

Ryan Cos. development director Bob Parr told the paper that the Star Tribune building stands in the way of the mega development.: “Without it, Ryan will not go forward,” Parr told the Strib.

The paper’s publisher Michael Klingensmith and its editorial pages have praised the plan to demolish the building and redevelop the four core blocks just west of the new Vikings stadium.

Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal’s Sam Black reported yesterday that the Strib is near a deal to move into the Capella Tower, the state’s second-tallest building. Black says the paper is likely to move into space in the “low teens” floors of the building, with some kind of retail presence on the ground. He says the paper is eyeing a move late next year.

It isn’t clear what the next step for the Strib’s present building will be with the Heritage Preservation Commission. The HPC’s process includes the right to appeal the commission’s decisions to the full City Council, and to submit the dispute to “subsequent judicial review.” Any affected party can appeal, but the formal appeal application has to be filed within 10 days.

But it isn’t the first setback for the Ryan plan, either. The company had proposed closing Portland Avenue in front of the paper to make the blocks between 4th and 5th streets contiguous for park land. But opposition from Hennepin County forced Ryan to drop that plan last month.