MINNEAPOLIS PARK BOARD PAYS $7.7 MILLION FOR INDUSTRIAL SITE
The following article by Burl Gilyard was published in the June 11, 2010 issue of Finance & Commerce:
The Minneapolis Park Board closed a big real estate deal this week. The board is paying $7.7 million for approximately 11 acres of riverfront land in northeast Minneapolis from Scherer Brothers Lumber Co.
The deal, which closed Wednesday, clears the way for converting the site from a long-standing industrial use to new city parkland. The park board originally hammered out a purchase agreement with Scherer Brothers last year.
“I think it’s just an incredible addition to the system. It’s really significant,” said John Erwin, president of the Minneapolis Park Board.
The Park Board has pulled together several sources of money to pay for the site, including $1.7 million from the Metropolitan Council’s Regional Park Acquisition Opportunity Fund and $700,000 that the Park Board received when some parkland was condemned for the new Interstate 35W bridge.
The board has a $5.3 million mortgage with Scherer Brothers. But the board will be seeking state money to pay the note from the Parks and Trails fund created under the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment passed by voters in 2008.
Erwin notes that the bulk of the money is coming from regional and state sources, not local property tax dollars.
The site is close to two existing city parks, Boom Island and B.F. Nelson Park.
“We have two other sites adjacent to it on the other side of the Plymouth Avenue Bridge,” Erwin said. “We’re likely going to develop a master plan for the whole three- park area and treat them as a single park. It will allow us to make a legacy park in northeast Minneapolis, where there hasn’t been one.”
The Scherer Brothers site includes several parcels between Eighth Avenue Northeast and 10th Avenue Northeast along the Minneapolis riverfront. The Graco plant is immediately to the north; B.F. Nelson Park is to the south.
What’s not known yet is the cost of converting the site, which includes several buildings, into a park. Erwin acknowledged that it would be a multi-phase project unfolding over years.
“We don’t have all of the estimates in. We know that there will be costs, we’re hoping that they’re not significant,” Erwin said.
“What we’re going to try to do is get the bike and walking paths done as quickly as possible along the river’s edge,” Erwin said.
Scherer Brothers is retaining some land on the site. The total site measures nearly 14 acres.
“This has been a large missing puzzle piece. It will enable us to reconnect nature and the river,” said state Rep. Diane Loeffler (DFL-Minneapolis), who represents the area at the legislature.
“It will be awhile before we see the redevelopment because it will take awhile to do the planning,” Loeffler said. “It was a lumber yard. It was a lot of parking and a lot of lumber used in their business.”
Ultimately, Erwin said, the goal is to have an iconic feature or attraction for the new park.
“We’re going to want to look at what can we put there that will be unique to the whole city,” Erwin said.