Civic beat :: Park Board buys Scherer Bros. site

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June 7, 2010 // UPDATED 8:32 am - June 7, 2010
By: Cristof Traudes
Cristof Traudes
On a 9–0 vote, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board on May 19 approved purchasing most of a Mississippi River-bordering lumberyard long owned by the Scherer Bros. Lumber Company. The 14-acre site, which borders Boom Island and B.F. Nelson Park, adds to a string of land the board wants to redevelop into a Northeast destination park.

The purchased land ended up being somewhat smaller than originally proposed. Portions deemed non-essential for parks were cut out, Planning Director Judd Rietkerk said. That took the total price tag down to about $8 million.

The board already made a $400,000 earnest money down payment in December.

To cover the remaining cost, the board is receiving a $1.7 million grant from the Metropolitan Council. The Park Board also successfully lobbied the Legislature to allow the use of money commonly designated for parks and trails.

Several commissioners said they were shuddering at the price tag, but they also said the site’s potential trumped their hesitations. President John Erwin said it had been 30 years since the land was last up for sale.

“We really want this, and I’m glad we have this opportunity,” said Northeast Commissioner Liz Wielinski, who later voted with “a resounding yes.”

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Hearing June 29 on bus route changes

Metro Transit is hosting a public hearing Downtown this month to talk about changes to more than a dozen bus routes.

The cause is a new transit station under construction at Interstate 35W and 46th Street South. Directly on the highway, the station is expected to allow buses to pick up and drop off customers without exiting onto city streets.

Affected routes are 11, 18, 46, 113, 135, 146, 152, 156, 535, 558, 576, 578, 579 and 684.

The meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 29 in the Doty Board Room of Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall. A formal public hearing will be conducted; to register to speak, call 651-602-1140.

For those who can’t attend, comments also will be taken by phone at 651-602-1500, by fax at 651-602-1464 and by e-mail at 35W-BRTstation@metc.state.mn.us.

The station is slated to open in December. For more information, go to metrotransit.org/35W.

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Interim head gets permanent gig at Convention Center

The Minneapolis Convention Center’s interim director’s term is set to become a bit more permanent.

Jeff Johnson, the center’s director of event services since 2006 and twice its interim leader, has been hired to the post of executive director. His job will involve managing more than 200 employees on a $27 million operating budget. The center hosted more than 450 events and 750,000 attendees in 2009.

Johnson also will oversee the city’s relationship with Target Center’s operator.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead the convention center into the future,” he said in a news release. “We have a unique opportunity to showcase Minneapolis to the world by opening our doors to visitors and locals alike.”

Johnson formerly was guest services director at St. Paul’s Rivercentre.

He will report directly to City Coordinator Steven Bosacker.


By the numbers
Minneapolis economic trends

6.7 percent
Unemployment rate in first quarter 2010

7.1 percent
Unemployment rate in first quarter 2009

2 percent
Decrease in average wages in third quarter 2009 vs. a year earlier

10
Number of permitted commercial/resident projects costing at least $1 million

17.6 percent
Office vacancy rate in central business district in first quarter 2010

13.6 percent
Office vacancy rate in central business district in first quarter 2009

Source: City of Minneapolis — Minneapolis Trends, Vol. 9, No. 1