Conservancy to take on Commons operations, fundraising

(Print Edition) The City of Minneapolis is preparing to hand over operations of the Downtown East Commons to Green Minneapolis, a non-profit conservancy formed by the Minneapolis Downtown Council.

The Commons, the two-block park in front of U.S. Bank Stadium on the east side of downtown Minneapolis, fully opened last August and has been maintained by the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District. A nearly $1.4-million interim operating agreement with Green Minneapolis would last through the end of the year, pending City Council approval. About $875,000 will come from donations to the park effort and $500,000 will come from the city’s adopted Public Works budget.

As part of the agreement, the group will take on the city’s goal of fundraising $22 million for designing and constructing a completed park. The city revealed in a recent memo that initial fundraising for the park did not cover the $15.3-million cost of opening the Commons despite putting on hold two buildings, a wet plaza and other design features.

Ryan Cos., the developer of the park and surrounding development, agreed to bridge the approximately $1.2-million budget shortfall through a short-term loan. The city may reimburse the company through donations and/or park dedication fees, according to the agreement.

It’s unclear how much planners have raised beyond the approximately $14 million. Green Minneapolis will distribute 77 percent to 83 percent of future contributions to the City of Minneapolis for current and future capital costs. The remaining one-fifth, or 17 percent to 23 percent, will go toward park operations.

Several local players have already supported the project, including the Minnesota Vikings, Wells Fargo and Ryan.