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Mpls. City Council Committee Moves Forward With Downtown East Project

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The proposed Minneapolis downtown east project — which would transform five city blocks of mostly surface parking lots into office space, housing, retail, and a city park — is closer to being approved.

On Tuesday, the city council’s Community Development Committee approved the issuance of bonds up to $65 million. Those bonds would finance the city’s share of the more than $400 million project.

Chuck Lutz, deputy director of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development, says they will issue the bonds under the powers of the Port Authority Act.

“The Port Authority Act provides the city flexibility for a variety of things in respect to the project, including purchasing private property and accepting financial assistance,” Lutz said.

The project will be located between 5th Avenue to Chicago Avenue, west to east; and 3rd Street to 5th Street, north to south. The Minneapolis Star Tribune currently owns those five blocks.

The project includes approximately 1.1 million square feet of office space in two office towers, a parking ramp with 1,600 stalls, up to 400 multi-family housing units, 22,000 square feet of retail space, a skyway system that connects downtown to the new stadium and two city block park.

Lutz says Ryan Companies will pay $350 million for the overall project. The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority will fund $29 million for a new skyway and a parking ramp. The city will chip in $57 million for the park and a portion of the parking ramp. The Minnesota Vikings also said they’ll throw in $1 million for the park.

After the presentation, council members took questions from the audience, mostly made up of groups representing the east area of downtown Minneapolis.

“This could be the most important and urgently needed project for this time,” said Dan Collison, president of the east downtown council.

After the public hearing portion the committee unanimously approved the issuance of bonds.

“It seems to me that the timing is as acceptable as its going to be,” said councilwoman Lisa Goodman. “For those out there that don’t support the project I apologize. I hope we haven’t let you down. I wish we could’ve made it better, but I’m not going to ignore the good in favor of the great.”

On Wednesday, the city council’s Ways and Means/Budget Committee will examine the project. A vote by the full city council is expected on Friday.

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