3416 S Fourth Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
Recreation Center: Central Gym
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This park will be affected by a completed park or service area master plan. View Master Plans
Size: 3.84 acres
Service Area: South
Master Plan: After two years of extensive community engagement, the Central Gym Park Master Plan was approved in 2016 as part of the South Service Area Master Plan. The Central Gym Park Master Plan will guide outdoor park improvements at Central Gym Park for the next 20-30 years. Click the link below to view the master plan.
Name: The park began as the gym of the former Central High School. Land was subsequently acquired around the gym, but by then its name was well-established. The park board officially named the property Central Park in June 1991. It was the second property in the city to have that name. From 1883 to 1890, today’s Loring Park was named Central Park.
Acquisition and Development
The park board’s involvement in the property began after Central High School closed in 1982. The park board had acquired an option to develop a park on the site if the school were ever to close as a part of an exchange of land with the school board at Shingle Creek elementary school in 1957.
In 1987 the park board agreed to convert the gym of the former high school for park use. The gym had been built only 11 years earlier. The rest of the school, which was built in 1922, was demolished. For several years the park board had wanted to establish a park in the neighborhood, but the neighborhood was opposed to having homes razed for a park. The closing of the high school presented the park board with a way to offer recreation services in the neighborhood without removing houses. The gym was dedicated as a park facility in October 1988. A totlot playground was created outside the gym in 1989.
Eventually, however, the park board did purchase the land containing homes along 3rd Avenue South to create an outdoor park as well. The land was purchased from 1998 to 1999 using funds from city bonds, state grants, Neighborhood Revitalization Program and the Minneapolis Community Development Agency. The park board installed a softball field, soccer field and tennis courts.