Who's Paying For the New Nicollet Mall? Not the Vikings

The Minneapolis Downtown Council is making the rounds this week with its plan to assess downtown property owners for their $25 million share of the $50 million Nicollet Mall renovation.

The plan, carefully crafted by Shenehon Business and Real Estate Valuations, breaks down the assessments into three different zones based on proximity, and eight different business classifications ranging from commercial office space to vacant land.

Almost all of the owners of downtown's major buildings will be paying something as beneficiaries of the ambitious rethinking of the mall, except for one glaring exception: the new Vikings stadium.

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A map showing the area of downtown that will be assessed falls a block short of the $1 billion Vikings stadium. Yesterday we called up Downtown Council President Steve Cramer to ask how that happened.

"As appealing as it might be to put the Vikings stadium in there, the area it's in as a whole was just too far away to discern measurable benefits," he said. "You can't pick and choose. We can't say 'well, we can't really measure the benefit for most people in this part of downtown, but we want to make sure the stadium is in.' It doesn't work like that."

The assessment zone stretches six blocks to the west of Nicollet Mall (which includes Target Field and Target Center), seven blocks to the east and two blocks to the north and south.

"Any time you have something like this you're going to have a boundary question," said Cramer. "Why here and not across the street? It's based on a rational calculation, and you have to have a line someplace."

Cramer said the Downtown Council will spend a few months selling the plan to the downtown business community and it's scheduled to go before city council for final approval in April.

The state included $21.5 million in bonding money for the project last year, and an additional $3.5 million is coming from the city. Construction is scheduled to start this summer.

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