Civic beat: Dayton says Its Metrodome or bust

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January 27, 2012
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
Gov. Mark Dayton says the Metrodome is only viable site for a new Vikings stadium that could pass during the 2012 legislative session.

Dayton, in an analysis of several stadium site proposals, had narrowed in on two Minneapolis sites, the other one being at Linden Avenue near the Basilica of St. Mary. But Dayton said threats by the Basilica of a lawsuit have made that site unworkable.

Dayton said he hopes a stadium deal can get done early in the 2012 session, which began Jan. 24, but he knows it may take longer than that.

In his analysis, Dayton said the Metrodome site does lacks opportunity for surrounding economic development, but said Mayor R.T. Rybak’s plan to partially finance the stadium through diverting existing sales and hospitality taxes is a viable one. Those tax revenues currently go toward the Convention Center.

It’s unclear how the state of Minnesota would finance its own portion, but some Republican leaders have indicated gambling revenue as the best source.

City and Izzy’s close to deal for Mill property

Izzy’s Ice Cream is closing in on a deal with the city of Minneapolis to buy a small piece of land in the Mill District to build an ice cream-making facility that will also act as a retail outlet.

The city’s Community Development Committee unanimously approved of the $437,850 sale, sending the deal along to the full City Council for a Jan. 27 vote.

Izzy’s wants to use about 75 percent of about 5,200 square feet at 1110 2nd St. S. for making ice cream, and the other 25 percent for selling it in its package. Owner Jeff Sommers said, at least initially, he would not sell ice cream by the scoop.

Two parties are protesting the land sale. Developer Jim Stanton said his plans for the 150-unti Park Vista condo project next door would be ruined by the ice cream factory.

Seven neighbors of the nearby Bridgewater Lofts building also spoke against Izzy’s. They said either the business would grow enough that too many trucks would be coming and going; or it wouldn’t, and the property could be sold to a company that might use it for something more industrial than ice cream.  

According to a city report to committee members, Izzy’s plans to spend $1.8 million on the project, hire the equivalent of 12 full time employees and pay about $25,000 a year in property taxes.

Izzy’s plans to keep open its St. Paul retail location but move production to Minneapolis. The company delivers its ice cream via a mini van and says it needs only one semi delivery per week, with a few additional deliveries throughout the year.

Park Board getting tools to buy land on upper riverfront

Minneapolis Park Board members are giving staff more tools to acquire land along the river north of downtown, including money and bargaining directives.

On Jan. 4, the Park Board approved a measure that allows staff to enter into non-binding letters of intent with property owners. Attorney Brian Rice told commissioners that there have been properties on the market but staff needs a strategy for acquiring them.

“In your last two budgets, you’ve appropriated funds to do land acquisitions, particularly in the Above the Falls master plan,” he said. “There have been some properties that are on the market or could become on the market.”

Rice was alluding to $1 million the Park Board has budgeted for riverfront development in 2012. The board also plans to continue setting aside $1 million annually through 2015.  

Jennifer Ringold, who is in charge of citywide planning for the Park Board, said in mid-January that no real estate deal was in place.  

The Park Board has ambitious plans for the upper riverfront north of Plymouth Avenue that includes adding more parks and trails to the area.

Staff has applied for a $1 million grant from the federal Transportation Enhancement Program to build bike and pedestrian trails on the east side of the river. In February, the Met Council will release its rankings for which metro projects will get priority when funding becomes available.

Plans for that potential trail between Plymouth Avenue and the Burlington Northern railroad bridge would require the Park Board to acquire some land, though much of it is already owned by the Park Board or has been made available through private owners granting easements, Ringold said.

If Park Board staff draws up a preliminary purchase agreement, it would need six of nine Park Board commissioners to approve of a land purchase.

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