Peavey Plaza demolition debate turns into legal battle


The controversy over the city of Minneapolis' plan to demolish Peavey Plaza, a 27-year-old park plaza designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, could end up being resolved in a court room.

Two advocacy groups -- The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota and the Washington D.C.-based Cultural Landscape Foundation -- filed a lawsuit this week accusing the city of violating the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act. The suit claims that Peavey is a historic resource, and protected under federal law.

"This is not the course we want to take, it's the course the city has forced us to take," says Charles Birnbaum, president of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, in a statement.

The city brought its plan to demolish Peavey to the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission earlier this year. Though not officially designated a historic landmark, it could have qualified, so the city treated it as one. In place of Peavey, the city wants to rebuild an entirely new design that would bring the space "into the 21st Century."

After the preservation committee voted down the proposal, the city appealed to the City Council. The appeal argued that Peavey is not actually a historic landmark, and doesn't comply with modern accessibility laws. From the document:

Even if Peavey Plaza is determined to be a historic resource, a demolition permit is warranted. Appellant has completed an existing conditions assessment, design studies, and economic analyses over the past eighteen months and determined that Peavey Plaza is functionally obsolete and the cost to repair or replicate is not feasible.

The City Council approved the appeal last month, putting Peavey back on the path to demolition.

The city didn't have an immediate response to the lawsuit, but we'll update if they provide comment.

Here's the lawsuit in full: Peavey Complaint

Previous Coverage:
  • Should Peavey Plaza be demolished? [POLL]
  • Peavey Plaza demolition voted down
  • Peavey Plaza back on path to destruction
  • Peavey Plaza demolition ruling appealed by city

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