The following article by Cristof Traudes appeared in the March 8, 2010 issue of the Downtown Journal:


The 14-acre Northeast riverfront site of Scherer Bros. Lumber Co., on which the Park Board already has made an earnest money down payment, will cost about $14.35 per square foot, or $8.65 million in its entirety.

That’s according to a new report from Planning Director Judd Rietkerk. When the down payment was approved in December, an appraisal was ongoing. He called the figure, which is just above the appraised value, “a fairly good deal,” especially when considering that the land would not have to be condemned.

If it moves forward, the Park Board likely won’t foot the bill alone. Parks staff has talked with relevant stakeholders, and there appears to be a consensus that only a portion of the site — stretching up to about 200 feet from the Mississippi River — be turned into parkland, Rietkerk said. For the remainder, the Park Board is looking into partnering with the city to find a developer or private funding source.

There are no exact plans for what the park would ultimately look like, but staff suggestions have included developing trails and open space. The site currently is entirely industrial.

Commissioner Bob Fine said it’s less important to have exact goals in mind now — or to even be in a hurry to develop the site for parks purposes — than it is to go ahead and lock the land up for the Park Board.

“If it’s sold to someone else,” Fine said, “we’ll never see it again.”