Image by Coen+Partners

Image by Coen+Partners

A new heart for Nicollet Mall

Peavey Plaza is slated to see a $10-million facelift

Peavey Plaza will begin to see a long-awaited revitalization next year just as a new Nicollet Mall reopens.

City officials hope to start work on a redesigned Peavey Plaza next spring, around mid-April, and reopen it about a year later in May 2019. Current plans for the approximately $10-million project show refinished fountains, accessible entryways and a 20,000-square-foot basin capable of hosting events or retaining water like Chicago’s Millennium Park.

Lisa Cerney, deputy director of the city’s Public Works department, said the city is wrapping up its 60 percent review with the State Historic Preservation Office on the redesign. Peavey Plaza, located at 12th & Nicollet, was built in 1974 and designed by M. Paul Friedberg. The plaza, with its series of concrete and brick walkways and features, is known for its modernist architecture.

Cerney said the city their goals are to rehabilitate defining features like the fountain, improve Peavey Plaza’s long-term sustainability, make it accessible to all kinds of users and provide more programmable space. Much of the aging plaza’s original 1970s infrastructure and plumbing needs to be repaired or replaced. The city can add outlets and mobile restrooms to make the plaza, a site on the National Register of Historic Places, more event-friendly, Cerney added.

Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners

A new Peavey Plaza will have a pedestrian ramp off of the mall and will be able to be activated in all seasons, according to preliminary plans from Minneapolis-based landscape architecture firm Coen + Partners. This could mean a skating rink and warming house in the winter or Minnesota Orchestra events or movie nights during warmer seasons.

The current proposal would shallow out the plaza’s basin, bringing it from two feet deep to just a quarter inch deep. It could then serve as a reflection pool. Cerney said it would resemble the Pool of Reflections at Lakewood Cemetery near Lake Calhoun.

The city is in talks with Green Minneapolis, the public-private conservancy now operating the Commons park near U.S. Bank Stadium, to eventually operate Peavey Plaza. The group has agreed to be the city’s fiscal agent to hold funds for the renovation.

The cost for the project is estimated to be between $8 million and $10 million. David Wilson, chair of Green Minneapolis, said a group of downtown leaders has a goal to raise $12 million, which will include $10 million for construction and $2 million for operating costs. Mayor Betsy Hodges included public funds for the project in her 2018 budget. The rest of the public contribution would come from state bonding money.

Half of the fundraising is expected to come from private sources, Wilson said. So far the group has raised $2.5 million, including a $2-million contribution from Target and other donations from U.S. Bank, among other companies and foundations.

Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners

Wilson envisions Peavey Plaza’s operations to eventually look similar to the conservancy’s work at the Commons. The group would solicit sponsorships to support programming and maintenance of the plaza. Wilson said long-term costs would come from a mix of public and private sources.

Wilson said he expects Green Minneapolis to formalize its relationship with the City of Minneapolis around Peavey Plaza next year prior to its reopening in 2019. The conservancy may eventually take on the Loring Greenway as another operating property, he added.

Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners
Image by Coen+Partners