MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A major downtown development project broke ground in Minneapolis Tuesday.

It is what’s known as the Downtown East Project. It will cost $400 million and promises to grow five blocks near the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. That’s especially important after taxpayers, the state and the Vikings helped pay $1 billion for it.

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Downtown East will take up 12-and-a-half acres near the new stadium. Ryan Companies, Inc., will bring apartments, a six-level parking ramp, a park, space for office space and shops. The project was met with some opposition along the way. Some lawmakers at the city and state level didn’t want taxpayers to sponsor the development or any more for the new Vikings stadium.

But Gov. Mark Dayton and former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said Tuesday the project is going to grow Minneapolis and help create more than 3,000 jobs.

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“We took an area with a bunch of parking lots and I’m telling you if the Vikings stadium wouldn’t have been there today we would be looking at a white elephant over there, a bunch of parking lots and no big idea for what to do,” Rybak said.

Officials said they’re trying to wrap up the project by August of 2017, with the funding for it coming from taxpayers and some private partners as a public/private partnership. The new Vikings stadium project is slate to be complete in time for the 2016 NFL season.

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It’s also near the light rail, and lawmakers are hoping to get more people riding public transportation. Officials said that’s another way to help grow light rail use and get more people in and around the Twin Cities metro. Officials also said there’s no point in building and investing in the Vikings stadium developing the light rail transit if there isn’t more development, like the Downtown East project, around it.