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In key first step, Minneapolis panel OKs downtown east project

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A city of Minneapolis panel on Tuesday night voted to approve the ambitious $400 million plan to develop a drab eastern stretch of downtown near the new Vikings stadium site, the Star Tribune reports.

The City Council's Community Development Committee voted 4-1 in what was one of the first of a number of hoops that project developer Ryan Cos. must jump through as it seeks to break ground by April. A full council vote on the concept of the plan is expected July 19, the Star Tribune reports.

Developers and city leaders envision two 20-story office buildings, 300 residential units and retail spaces and a city-financed parking garage with 1,300 spots. The project, unveiled in May, also includes a 8.9-acre park, the largest in downtown, which Mayor R.T. Rybak has taken to calling "The Yard," WCCO reports. The last significant office-space development in downtown was the Capella Tower in 1991, WCCO notes.

"We hope that by April of next year, there will be shovels in the ground and that this whole transformation of this part of downtown will be done by the time the stadium is built in 2016," Rybak said, FOX 9 reported.

The Star Tribune currently owns the five blocks. Here's a glance at Ryan's proposal:

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