Ryan Cos. Makes $200K Donation for Downtown East Park

The following article by Nick Halter was published in the September 24, 2014 issue of the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal:

Ryan Cos. Makes $200K Donation for Downtown East Park


The money will hire a professional fundraiser to come up with several million dollars to turn two city blocks on the east side of downtown into a park.

Ryan Cos. US Inc. kicked off a drive to raise funds for a new green space in downtown Minneapolis with a $200,000 donation.

Ryan Cos. has said it would take the lead on fundraising. The Minneapolis developer recently won rights to build an apartment tower near the new Minnesota Vikings football stadium.  Ryan is also developing two office towers along the would-be park.

The pledge was made in a letter to the Minneapolis Downtown Council by Tony Barranco, Ryan’s vice president of development. City Council Member Jacob Frey posted the letter on Facebook and said he negotiated the donation.

A new 501(c)(3) entity called Greening Downtown Minneapolis has been formed to raise the funds, according to the letter.

Barranco could not be reached for comment.

Former Mayor R.T. Rybak, who negotiated the original $400 million Downtown East development project, suggested in a Star Tribune commentary in May that $10 million would be needed to turn the two-blocks into the “great people-place we envision.”

Rybak called the donation the beginning of the momentum needed for a public campaign to raise money, but backed off his $10 million estimate.

“It’s impossible to know exactly how much is needed and too many people, including me, have been throwing around numbers,” Rybak said in an interview. “Those in charge need to first say what they want to build and how much is needed.”

The Vikings have already kicked in $1 million. Ryan paid $3 million for development rights atop the parking ramp, and that money will also go toward the park, although it’s about half of what Ryan originally proposed.