Star Tribune, May 15, 2013.
One of the largest real estate projects in Minneapolis history, announced Tuesday, would transform a largely barren stretch of downtown that has long struggled to attract investment.
The $400 million proposal would target a five-block area near the new Vikings stadium, adding offices, residential housing, retail and an 9-acre park, according to developer Ryan Cos. City officials hope the proposed project will generate even more development in the years ahead.
“Dog days are over for east downtown,” exclaimed Mayor R.T. Rybak, at a news conference on one of the vacant lots Ryan will purchase.
The property, which the Star Tribune is selling to Ryan, would become home to two 20-story office towers for up 6,000 workers. The city would then borrow $65 million to fund a parking facility and a park that would hug the light-rail line, leading to the Vikings stadium.
Yet several hurdles must be cleared before the ambitious plan moves from renderings to reality.
Although Ryan and the city envision Wells Fargo & Co. as the sole occupant and owner of the office towers, no formal agreement has been reached with the financial services giant. The deal also hinges on Ryan winning a parking contract from the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which oversees nearby stadium development.
Council praise and questions
The city bond deal also raises its own questions, such as whether the finer points would pass muster with the City Council. However, some of the most vocal critics of the Vikings stadium bill, which divided the council, said they were open to the Ryan plan.
Council President Barb Johnson credited the stadium, designs of which were unveiled Monday night, for helping to attract the development.
“I just think that it’s so important that we answer the critics who said this was the wrong place for the stadium, [that] nothing has happened around the Metrodome,” she said. “Well, it took a day. So I’m really pleased about this.”
While proximity to the new stadium played a part, access to the Downtown East/Metrodome light-rail station was even more critical, said Rick Collins, vice president of development for Minneapolis-based Ryan.
“We think it’s one of the most transit-friendly and transit-oriented development sites in the Twin Cities right now,” he said. “So we believe that corporate uses are attracted to this location in part because of its strong connection to the labor pool everywhere in the Twin Cities.”
The entire development is expected to be completed by July 2016, in time for the stadium’s opening.
The city’s end of the bargain involves issuing bonds to fund a parking ramp and a park, the largest in the heart of downtown. The bonds would be tied to the full faith and credit of the city, but Ryan would guarantee payments for the first 10 years — providing some haven for taxpayers.
After that, the city says the money would be repaid by revenue from three parking ramps and potential dollars from the Stadium Authority. Repaying the park debt, however, may require “other general city financial resources,” according to an outline of the deal. That, along with the fact that the bonds won’t cover the development of the park land, may raise concerns at City Hall.
“I’m open to the discussion about whether or not this makes sense,” said Council Member Lisa Goodman, who chairs the city’s development committee and represents eastern downtown. She said she could support it if property taxes generated by the development make the city’s tax base grow — rather than subsidize the project — and if the deal doesn’t expose the city to financial risk.
“I think they might be able to do this,” she added. “This was a very creative way to leverage the city’s authority to do something really great for the east side of downtown.”
Council Member Gary Schiff said he was “very glad” the initial plan does not call for a tax subsidy, known as tax increment financing. But he still has questions about who would own the park, how it would be developed and how the debt would be paid.
The project would also bring 300 rental or owner-occupied residential units in downtown east, although a study would determine the exact mix, Collins said. Currently, several hundred apartments are being built or renovated downtown, including nearly 800 luxury units along the light-rail line, just blocks from the Ryan site.
Retail is expected to be service-oriented to support residents and office workers, as well as restaurants, Collins said.
Wells working on concerns
Several contingencies also need to be worked out with Wells Fargo before it commits to the site, spokeswoman Peggy Gunn said. “These could include things like cost issues, market conditions, environmental factors, city and county approvals and design challenges,” she said. “We intend to work through any challenges that arise to determine if this is the right project for Wells Fargo.
“At the same time,” she added, “we are excited about the potential opportunity to participate in this project that will transform the east side of downtown Minneapolis.”
Ryan has a purchase agreement to buy the land from the Star Tribune by year’s end. Terms were not disclosed. The company would relocate to leased space downtown, and its Depression-era headquarters would be torn down.
“The Star Tribune has aspired to move our headquarters to a new space in Minneapolis that more properly reflects the mission and capabilities of a 21st-century news organization,” Star Tribune CEO Mike Klingensmith said. “But it has also been of paramount importance to us that we do so in a way that confirms our commitment to the future of this city.”
In 2012, the Star Tribune editorial page strongly advocated building on the Metrodome site during the contentious Vikings stadium debate. Klingensmith said Tuesday that “our commercial development did not drive the editorial page’s view on the stadium. But I think that the subsequent stadium plan and development plan basically reinforced why we thought this would be such a good idea.”
He added: “It’s possible for something to be good for us and also good for the city.”
The Ryan proposal isn’t the first pitched for the Star Tribune property by developers. A previous deal calling for the Vikings to buy four of the blocks for $45 million fell apart in 2007 due to uncertainty in the credit markets.
It was a blustery one out there, but Holly Holt and Cindy Froid were there handing out plants to our valued friends and neighbors! Thank you all for your continued support of this unique and (we think) best organic and local urban farmers market around! See you all summer!
~the cynthia froid group
ps if you’re not already on our mailing list, email us at admin(at)cynthiafroid.com to get our coupon for the closing of the season appreciation event!
In New York City apartment buildings where collective decision-making can cause months of tension, there is little that highlights the potential divide so clearly as choosing paintings for the lobby.
Where Neighborly Agreement Is Scarce, Finding Consensus on Art in the Lobby
Published: December 10, 2012 in The New York Times. Photograph by Fred R. Conrad
The spaces are often teeny and the prices are generally enormous, but perhaps the most irritating feature of living in New York City condominiums and co-ops lies past the wallet and outside the apartment door: collective decision-making among dozens, even hundreds, of neighbors.
The board found a creative solution for decorating the elevator vestibules, though the lobby of the building is bereft of artwork.
Selecting a potted plant to put outside the entrance can require months of discussion and leave a residue of tension for years. But nothing is so likely to highlight the limits of consensus than the deeply subjective choice of what to hang in a common space — art.
Up and down the streets and avenues of one of the great art capitals of the world, the lobbies and hallways of even the most lavish apartment buildings are lined with demure landscapes, or lazy black-and-white photographs, whose highest virtue is that they will offend no one. But several buildings around the city have managed a more creative approach.
One such building is 350 Bleecker Street, a co-op in Greenwich Village with about 110 units that has set up a rotating gallery that essentially allows shareholders to skip the decision-making process.
“When we started to discuss what the lobby would look like, I said the only thing I care about is that there should be art on the walls,” said Robinson Holloway, a former sportswriter and a painter who was on the building’s most recent lobby design committee.
“That dropped like a little bomb into the conversation,” Ms. Holloway continued. “Everybody said, ‘That’s impossible,’ because no one can agree on art.”
So for the past six years or so, the lobby has hosted a new show every six weeks. The building displayed work by Nina Boesch, who made pictures entirely out of MetroCards, and sold 42 pieces during that six weeks, both to building residents and to people who saw the art through the lobby’s glass wall and came in to inquire.
The current exhibition, called “Sugar and Fat,” is by Pamela Talese. It includes paintings of doughnuts and a fudge tart.
And then there was a show in which paintings of flaming shipwrecks lined the walls. That was less popular than some other shows.
“If you like it, you can buy it,” said Armanda Squadrilli, a building resident who is a senior vice president at the real estate firm Douglas Elliman. “And if you don’t like it, it’ll be gone in a few weeks.”
Ms. Holloway selects the works, makes little labels for them and usually holds a modest party in the lobby to inaugurate each exhibition. Her only requirement is that she can get the art on the walls, and that it is different from the show that came before. With expenses like gas and label paper, it costs the building only $750 a year, and about five hours of Ms. Hollaway’s time per artist. In return for doing all the work, she makes decisions on her own.
“We probably won’t have a Schnabel in our lobby, but we get a lot of fun things,” Ms. Holloway said. “And every six weeks, the building talks about art — even if it’s to say, ‘Ooohh, that other one was better.’ ”
Marjorie Hilton, an interior designer who has worked on several lobbies, said the art was only the most difficult piece of what was always a fraught puzzle. Once, Ms. Hilton recounted, the residents of a building complained about a piece of art she selected for the lobby because they did not like the color red. Today, she said, she will turn down a job if the lobby committee comprises more than three people.
Even if a building’s board members are capable of reaching a swift consensus, they will soon encounter an equally intractable problem. The good stuff is not cheap.
But at 251 West 19th Street, a condominium in Chelsea, they have found a way around those huge prices. When they could not afford to buy, they decided to rent.
This fall, the building mounted nine large photographs, one on the wall of each elevator vestibule from the second floor up to the 10th, from a series called “Lost in My Life” by the artist Rachel Perry Welty. Each picture shows Ms. Welty obscured by the detritus of everyday life — a sea of colorful twist-ties in one photograph, and rows of receipts or a blanket of price tags in others.
Ms. Welty is represented by the nearby Yancey Richardson Gallery, which specializes in fine-art photography. The Ms. Richardson for whom the gallery is named has lived at 251 West 19th Street for more than 30 years, with her husband, Mark, the president of the condo board.
Mr. Richardson saw the art at his wife’s gallery and flipped for it, he said, so he tried to persuade the board to buy a few pieces. But the building had had a costly couple of years, which included performing maintenance on the facade and redoing the lobby — the old lobby was alternately described by two apartment owners as “ugly” and like “a border crossing.” The building even had to tear down and rebuild a penthouse in response to a lawsuit. Mr. Richardson failed to rally enough support to buy the pictures, and the gallery’s photos sold out.
But Mr. Richardson did have success persuading his wife to lease the artist’s proofs to the building for five years. He says it costs about $15 per month for each of the building’s 44 units.
“A lot of people who have this kind of art in their living room are very, very rich people, but this is not a very, very rich building,” said Leonard Steinberg, a managing director at Douglas Elliman who owns an apartment in the building that he rents out. “They are enjoying art of a caliber they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.”
With the hallways taken care of, the board turned its attention to a bare wall at the back of the lobby — which, as it happens, proved to be difficult. So while board members battled over it, Mr. Richardson said they decided to make it an accent wall in the interim.
“We tried a bunch of colors, and we got notes stuck up there going, ‘I hate this color!’ ” Mr. Richardson said, with a remarkable degree of good humor. “Anonymous stickies. So we kept changing it until the notes went away.”
Today the wall has settled into a fiery reddish orange. The board has yet to decide what to do about the art.
On the downtown side of the riverbank, the Mill Ruins Park, Guthrie Theater, and Mill City Museum comprise the most visited places. Walk across the Stone Arch Bridge, and you’ll find more riverfront restaurants and bars to enjoy! Take a walk on the water plant plank and get as close to the St. Anthony Falls as possible!
Take a gander around Minneapolis’ natural waterways and take in what sets Minneapolis apart – plenty of urban lakes! Harriet, Calhoun, and Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake comprise the best of the urban natural habitat of Minneapolis!
Loop around Minneapolis and discover an astounding array of natural beauty all around us! Start at Theodore Wirth Park with Eloise Butler Flower Garden, Wirth Lake, Victory Memorial, through Northeast, Downtown Riverfront, Mississippi River, Minnehaha Parkway and Creek, and finally the Chain of Lakes.
On Hennepin Avenue from about 3rd to 8th street, you’ll find the neighborhood which has earned Minneapolis the title of “Most Theater Seats Per Capita” second only to New York City! The Ordway, Pantages, and now the new Cowles Center for Dance and Theater Art rank among the finest. The Guthrie Theater and many smaller theaters (Theater Garage) round out theatrical offerings in other areas.
Further south from Nicollet Mall, you’ll find a section of Nicollet Avenue called Eat Street. There’s no park, no theater, no live entertainment (save the new Icehouse late nights), but what you will find are the many restaurants offering food from all the places the sun travels (practically).
Our faves: from Mock Chicken Pad Thai (Evergreen Thai Restaurant), bacon ice cream sundays (Icehouse Restaurant), Bahn Mi sandwiches (Lu’s), Spaetzle (Black Forest Restaurant).
3 floors of italian marble provide the backdrop for art from the ancient world to today. Located between Uptown and Downtown, it is a place of overwhelming proportions, best seen on multiple days. Donations accepted.
Our faves: Chuck Close self portrait, the jade in the Asian Art section, and the Albrecht Durer’s Adam and Eve.
This St. Paul institution is located on the riverfront across from the Xcel center (home of the Minnesota Wild Hockey team). An Omnimax theater, an ever changing special exhibit, countless permanent displays keep locals coming back again and again.
Our best kept secret revealed: Bring in your own special rock, fossil or unusual find, and the scientists will assess it, and give you an opportunity to trade it for other cool finds!
In the middle of Lake Street, you will find this urban gem making use of an old Sears store in a delicious way! Merchants and Restaurants from all over the globe come together to create what is sure to be an eye opening adventure on the yummy side! Live music often accompanies this lively dining adventure.
Our faves: Salty Tart, Jakeenos pizza, Salsa de la Salsa.
The large rusticated brick bridge once provided grain trains access to both sides of the river. Now an iconic pedestrian bridge, it is traversed by bicycle commuters, tourists wanting a great view of Minnehaha Falls, Segway tours, and more!
Located in the capital city of St. Paul, the children’s museum brings science to life! Discover Minnesota specific habitats, see a special event, even host a birthday party! Accolades from Parents Magazine, Nickelodeon Parent Connect, and MN Parent Magazine reinforce what Minnesotans already know: it’s the perfect place for young children to combine learning and play.
With its stunning exterior and interior design, as well as its engaging collection and exhibits, the Mill City Museum is an anchor of the Mill District. Built within the charred ruins of the Washburn A Mill, a site designated a national landmark by the National Register of Historic Places and at one time the milling center of the world, this museum tells the story of Minneapolis’s flour mill past, the influence of the flour mill industry on the city’s growth, and the national and international impact of Minneapolis’s mill industry.
This stunning scenic destination of Minnehaha Creek’s final dramatic descent on the way to the Mississippi River has brought crowds in all seasons since the late 1800’s. Surrounded by acres of riverfront parkland, visitors can take a 4 person bicycle, hike the creek to the dog park, and enjoy some of the freshest fish in town for lunch or dinner at Sea Salt cafe while listening to summertime music.