Committee has raised $7 million for Downtown East Commons

Officials from a private and public fundraising committee announced Thursday that they’ve raised a third of the cost of Downtown East Commons. The committee, made up of 15 members led by co-chairs Mayor Betsy Hodges and Pat Ryan of Ryan Companies, has secured $7 million out of the $22 million necessary to build the 4.2-acre urban park.

Since May, the group has been raising funds from Wells Fargo, Ryan and the City of Minneapolis for the two-block Commons.

“This is an important project for the City of Minneapolis,” Hodges said at a press conference. “It is going to be a signature item for the city for generations to come and we get to lead the way with our lead gifts here today.”

The $22 million will go toward designing and building the park in addition to covering some initial maintenance and operating expenses.

The Minneapolis Downtown Council, which is represented on the 15-person committee, has also hired consulting firm New Partners out of Washington, D.C. to bolster fundraising from the private sector. Private contributions will be directed to Green Minneapolis, the downtown parks-focused, non-profit conservancy set up by the council.

Ryan had previously kicked off the fundraising effort with a $200,000 contribution. “This is the front yard and the backyard for the 70,000 residents that are going to be living here in 2025,” Ryan said.

Wells Fargo CEO David Kvamme, who is also on the committee, said the company’s contribution emphasized its commitment to Minneapolis. Wells Fargo’s two 17-story towers, just across the street from the park’s north side, reflect a $300 million investment and will be home 5,000 employees once complete.

Hargreaves Associates, the San Francisco-based landscape architecture firm tasked with designing the park, unveiled concepts earlier this year that show a great lawn and shade structure that could accommodate up to 4,000 to 6,000 people, a pavilion and a water plaza.

Construction on the Commons and the neighboring $400 million Downtown East mixed-use development from Ryan is well underway. Demolition on the Star Tribune building has begun to make way for a basic version of the Commons by July 2016. Mortenson Construction is just a year off from completing the nearby U.S. Bank Stadium, which is about 65 percent complete.

Council Member Jacob Frey, who serves on the committee, said the amount raised in the past couple months bodes well for the project.

“A world-class city deserves a world-class public realm and a downtown central park,” he said. “I think we’re off to a great start.”


Fundraising Committee members:

Co-Chair Mayor Betsy Hodges

Co-Chair Pat Ryan, CEO, Ryan Companies

David Kvamme, CEO, Wells Fargo Minnesota

City Council Member Jacob Frey

Richard Davis, CEO, U.S. Bank

Chris Policinski, CEO, Land O’Lakes

Joel Connor, CEO, Bellisio Foods

Steve Cramer, CEO, Minneapolis Downtown Council

Jay Cowles, president, Unity Avenue Associates

David Wilson, senior managing director, Accenture

Dean Phillips, chairman, Talenti Gelato

Tom Hoch, CEO, Hennepin Theater Trust

Allen Lenzmeier, former vice chairman, Best Buy

Deb Hopp, publisher at MSP Communications

Collin Barr, president North Region, Ryan Companies


Read full article at SouthwestJournal.com