Planning Commission approves Ryan Cos.' Downtown East project

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November 13, 2013 // UPDATED 10:41 am - November 19, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Downtown-based developer Ryan Cos. has secured a conditional use permit for its proposed $400 million development project planned next to the new Vikings stadium.

The Minneapolis Planning Commission gave the project the green light Tuesday. Ryan's vision calls for two new office towers with about 1.5 million square feet of office space, 20,000 square feet of commerical space and 203 housing units for a five-block area between the stadium and downtown's core. Wells Fargo has been in talks with Ryan about being the anchor tenant for the project.

The next step for Ryan is to go before the City Council to get approval for the project's financing plan. Rick Collins, vice president of development for Ryan, said they are anticipating going before the Council on Dec. 13. 

In July, The Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority (MSFA) awarded Ryan Cos. the contract for building parking facilities and a new skyway for the new stadium. The parking contract is a key part of Ryan's financing plan for its development project. 

The city plans to sell bonds to finance the construction of the parking ramp, which would be owned by the MSFA. Ryan has agreed to pay off the bond debt service for 10 years and then for the next 20 years, a mix of parking revenues and other funding sources would be used to cover debt service payments.  

Ryan has proposed to build two parking ramps — one would have 1,328 parking stalls on the McClellan block at Chicago and Park, and a second ramp north of the stadium would have 407 parking stalls. Its new development will also be linked to the Central Business District and stadium via a skyway. 

Ryan is also seeking approval from the city's Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) to demolish the Star Tribune's building at 425 Portland Ave. S. to make way for its new development. The HPC will review the request at its meeting next Tuesday.

The city's Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) has issued  a report recommending the HPC approve the demolition request as long as the building's iconic stone medallions are removed and incorporated into the proposed park along with a plaque detailing the site's history. 

Preserve Minneapolis, meanwhile, has raised objections to Ryan Cos.' request to demolish the Star Tribune. In a letter to the HPC, the board of the local preservation group wrote: "We believe that the Star Tribune building can and should be preserved and reused, not as an impediment to the proposed Downtown East development but as an integral part of it."