Judge turns down legal challenge to Downtown East project

Mel Dickstein (MN Courts photo)

A last-ditch effort to stop the city’s plans for the $400 million Downtown East development has fallen short. Mostly.

Hennepin County District Court Judge Mel Dickstein has rejected opponents’ request for a temporary restraining order, initially filed in an effort to stop the Minneapolis city council’s approval of the project. That happened anyway, earlier today.

Dickstein rejected arguments that the project financing broke a state cap on what the city could contribute to the Vikings stadium, that the ramp should be built by the Vikings because their fans needed it, and that the city was exceeding its own redevelopment authority, as well as that of its Port Authority.

Dickstein didn’t mince words. He said it looked like the deal was legal, and the city was within its rights to finance the parking ramp.

“The primary purpose of the ramp is to serve the individuals who will work in the adjacent towers, and may also serve the people who live in and visit the residents of the multifamily units which comprise an integral part of this development. While the Block 1 Ramp also provides a concomitant benefit to the Vikings Stadium, its primary use is as a part of the large commercial residential development at issue. The City’s financing of the Block 1 Ramp, therefore, exists independent of the Stadium and does not violate the statutory limit on the City’s contribution. “

It wasn’t a total loss for the stadium opponents though. Dickstein said they raised a legitimate question regarding park land in the city. Former Minneapolis City Council member Paul Ostrow argued yesterday that the city’s plan to pay $20 million for a downtown park improperly encroached on the Minneapolis Park Board’s jurisdiction.

Dickstein will hold another hearing, on the park property matter on Dec. 18.

Here’s his order: