MPRB to Consider Leading Development at former Scherer Bros Parcel ‘D’ Site

On February 15th, 2017 MPRB planning staff presented the Board of Commissioners with four options for redirecting efforts at the Parcel ‘D’ portion of the former Scherer Bros Site.  The redirection effort comes following a lack of responses within the posted timeframe to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to developers for private development of Parcel ‘D’.

The four options presented for discussion included:

  1. Reframe and reissue the RFQ based on developer feedback received
  2. Direct the site to permanent park use as the remainder of the site is developed as a park that includes Hall’s Island
  3. Develop the site as temporary parkland as the reminder of the site evolves into park use
  4. Reconsider directions for development and lead the development process as opposed to seeking a development partner

Considerations for each option were presented to the Board including compatibility with the project’s original development and performance goals as established by the RiverFirst Implementation Framework for the Minneapolis Upper Riverfront, as well as the St Anthony West Neighborhood Organization (STAWNO) Small Area Plan.

Of the options presented staff recommended that MPRB take on a leadership role in development. While this development scale is unique, staff cited precedent of landlord tenant relationship at several properties including Phillips Community Center,  concession buildings at regional parks, and future concessions at Water Works. In addition MPRB operates events centers such as Nicollet Island Pavilion, and acts a developer in the creation of new facilities including the Adventure and Welcome Center at Theodore Wirth Regional Park. While MPRB would take a leadership position in the development, staff indicated that additional active development partners and resources will be necessary to advance both the development and performance goals for the site.

A potential program for the site that might include office space, year-round restaurant, gallery, classroom and flex space, a private event center and structured parking will be further vetted both with the community and financially before bringing a development proposal to the Board of Commissioners for consideration. This program could encompass uses originally envisioned in a separate park operated building on the site that might include boat rentals and storage, café, terraces, public gathering space and park maintenance areas.

In general the Board of Commissioners reacted favorably to the idea of MPRB leading the project, encouraging staff to look further into this option and to come back to the board with a proposal. The board also asked staff to consider how development might fit with the NorthEast arts district, to push sustainability goals at the site, to consider how non-profits could be involved and cautioned staff not to make temporary improvements at the site. While some Commissioners preferred to sit on the project or go back out to the private development community, staff was ultimately asked to explore the idea of lead development further.