By Burl Gilyard
Dolan Media Newswires
Minneapolis — Minneapolis Park Board officials have closed a big real estate deal, paying $7.7 million for about 11 acres of riverfront land in northeast Minneapolis from Scherer Brothers Lumber Co.
The deal clears the way for converting the site from a long-standing industrial use to new city parkland. The board originally hammered out a purchase agreement with Scherer Brothers last year.
“I think it’s just an incredible addition to the system,” 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 seek 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 noted the bulk of the money is coming from regional and state sources; not local property taxes.
The site is close to two existing city parks, Boom Island and B.F. Nelson Park.
“We’re likely going to develop a master plan for the whole three-park area and treat them as a single park,” Erwin said. “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 it would be a multiphase project unfolding for years.
“We don’t have all of the estimates in,” he said. “We know that there will be costs. We’re hoping that they’re not significant.
“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.”
Scherer Brothers is retaining some land on the site. The site measures nearly 14 acres.
“This has been a large missing puzzle piece,” said state Rep. Diane Loeffler, DFL-Minneapolis, who represents the area. “It will enable us to reconnect nature and the river.
“It will be a while before we see the redevelopment because it will take a while to do the planning.”
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,” he said, “that will be unique to the whole city.”