James Corner–designed pedestrian street, the Nicollet Mall, gets budgetary rethink in Minneapolis

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Nicollet Mall is planned to be used in all four seasons. The improved pedestrian street will include space for changing art installations. (Courtesy James Corner Field Operations)

MinneapolisJames Corner–designed Nicollet Mall redevelopment project has hit a speedbump as an initial construction bid has come in at over $24 million over the $35 million construction budget.

Light Walk Canopy during the Day

The Light Walk will bring light and reflections of the sky down to the sidewalk. (Courtesy James Corner Field Operations)

The Nicollet Mall is a 50-year-old pedestrian and transit street in the heart of Minneapolis. Historically the commercial center of the city, the mall was given over to pedestrians, buses, and taxis in 1965 in an attempt to bring shoppers back from the suburbs, and the growing popularity of enclosed malls. Edina, MN, a suburb of Minneapolis, is home to the first enclosed modern mall in the U.S., designed by Victor Gruen in 1956. The Nicollet Mall was given a makeover in the 1980s as well, but it has been nearly 30 years since the Mall has seen any major improvements.

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(Courtesy James Corner Field Operations)

The new plan, based on a competition winning design by James Corner Field Operations, incorporates a series of event spaces along the street to engage the public. A two-block mirrored canopy walkway, a “reading room,” improved transit stations, and a theater in the round will activate the 12-block stretch of the downtown public space.

Each end of the Mall will also include a “Wood” where more intensive green spaces will include larger native trees. The overall planned budget for the two year project is $50, but with only one construction company submitting a bid for $59 million for the construction alone, the projects organizers are having to rethink parts of their plan.

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(Courtesy James Corner Field Operations)

The first step that may be taken is rethinking material choices for the project. One of the main sticking points in the budget is the plan for eight acres of the Mall to be paved in custom concrete tile pavers.

Officials say that the main design elements for the project will not be sacrificed though in the new plan, and more bids will be solicited in February based on an altered design.

To entice a more varied size of contractors, instead of one single bid, it is also likely that the project will be broken down in to smaller, more manageable segments. Major construction is still expected to begin in spring of 2016, with the completion date set for summer 2017.

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