Last year Minneapolis broke ground on a major mixed-use development centered around a park next to the under-construction stadium that will house the Minnesota Vikings football team. Now dubbed “The Commons,” the 4.2-acre park was the subject of a public meeting last week, at which its design came into clearer focus. Designed by San Francisco's Hargreaves Associates, the site has a lot going on, in the words of MinnPost's Marlys Harris: “a café, promenades, a Great Lawn, a lesser lawn, a water feature, play areas for kids, a stage, garden-y places, trees (of course), places to compete at bocce and chess, kiosks, an ice rink in winter, tables with umbrellas, moveable chairs, public art and benches and terraces where public snogging could occur.” It will also accommodate fan festivals and other Vikings-related events on game days. Hargreaves fielded a reported 2,750 survey responses while designing the park, whose budget is projected at $22 million. Only a small portion of that has been raised, and public officials have said the space will be financed by private donations. As public discussion of the democratically designed space continues, budget adjustments may align with Harris' call "to survey the public on what they could live without." One remaining question is whether Portland Avenue, which currently bisects the park site, will remain open to automobile traffic.
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A residential development in downtown Minneapolis is set to give the city its first woonerf, a road type developed in the Netherlands that integrates vehicle traffic and parking with pedestrians, bicyclists and public amenities. The BKV Architects–designed Mill City Quarter housing breaks ground later this year, starting with a six-story building that will include up to 150 rental housing units priced to be affordable for those making 60 percent of the metropolitan median income or less. Later phases will add more units, say developers Wall Cos. and Lupe Development Partners, including 45 units for those with memory problems and 105 for assisted and independent living. Taking up the block at the northwest corner of 2nd Street and 3rd Avenue, the development hopes to connects the Mill District—home to the popular riverside Mill City Museum, Guthrie Theater, and soon a massive mixed-use development in the shadow of the new Minnesota Vikings stadium—with the rehabbed warehouses and thriving cultural scene of the North Loop neighborhood. Bisecting that block is a former rail corridor leading toward Mississippi River trails and a riverside visitor center that Minneapolis' Park Board has proposed for just downstream of the 3rd Avenue Bridge. Mill City Quarter's developers have agreed to make that side street into a woonerf with 80 diagonal parking spaces flanking colored pavement demarcating reduced-speed vehicle traffic, green space, bike lanes and pedestrian zones. Minneapolis' Park Board approved plans for the “amenity-rich plaza street,” through the $73.8 million development, but expressed concerns over developer and former City Council member Steve Minn's plans to install a gate at the park end of the woonerf, which he said he'd keep closed during park off-hours, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. By exempting the development from a new parks law that would require them to donate land to public space, the Park Board gave their agreement some teeth—if the developers restrict public access to the land they could be on the hook for $61,400.
In its last scheduled meeting of the year, Minneapolis City Council could give the go-ahead on a $400 million mixed-use development near the new Vikings stadium. Surface parking lots currently occupy much of that land. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial board called the Downtown East neighborhood “a part of the city’s commercial core in desperate need of new life.” The newspaper stands to benefit from the project, as the editorial announces—they plan to sell five blocks of nearby property, including their current headquarters, and move downtown. With 1.1 million square feet of office space, apartments, retail space, and a park, the Ryan Cos. project could attract tax revenue to the city, as Wells Fargo is reportedly looking to anchor the development as a corporate tenant. It also includes a 1,625-space parking ramp. Mayor R.T. Rybak said that over 30 years the project will generate $42 million in property taxes for the city, $50 million for Hennepin County and $35 million for the Minneapolis public schools. The public-private partnership does not call for tax-increment financing. Instead, it asks the City Council to approve $65 million in bonds, to be paid off by revenue from the project’s parking ramp over 30 years. The developer would cover shortfalls for the first 10 years. Minneapolis has embarked on several large-scale urban redevelopment projects, including a makeover of the city's "Main Street" by James Corner Field Operations.
What's sure to become the ultimate tailgating accessory for Minneapolis Vikings football fans this year has hit the market at the Minnesota State Fair. Thanks to Duluth Pack, makers of bags and tents, the collapsed roof of the Minneapolis Metrodome has been reborn as a duffel and shell bag, appropriately part of the "Domer" collection. The stadium's white fabric dome collapsed in 2010 under the weight of Minneapolis' plentiful snow, the fourth time such an event has occurred. The torn remnants of the roof were put up for sale and businessmen, Jim Cunningham and Tim O’Phelan, picked up the inner of two layers of the roof on a "total whim" for $4,000, according to the Duluth News Tribune. The roof's outer layer was sold to farmers to cover their fields and a small portion went to sports fans looking for a momento. After a few years in storage, the three-acre inner layer of the Teflon-coated fiberglass covering has been cleaned and sliced into panels for the limited edition bags. Cunningham and O'Phelan approached Duluth Pack realizing the material's rugged potential. "You can’t rip it. It’s waterproof. It’s kind of like the materials Duluth Pack uses," O'Phelan told the News Tribune. If you can't make it to the Minnesota State Fair, the bags are also offered for sale online at Duluth Pack's website. Bags range in price from $160 to nearly $500. Minneapolis is currently moving forward with plans for a dramatic new Vikings stadium designed by architecture firm HKS. AN recently sat down for a Q+A with the architect working on the project, Bryan Trubey. [H/T Ballpark Digest.]