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Rooftop Wells Fargo signage a sticking point in Downtown East deal

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The $400 million Downtown East development deal is inching toward the goal line, but it has to get by a linebacker of an obstacle.

The plan aims to transform a five-block area near the planned $975 million stadium, with 1.1 million square feet of office space, two 17-story office buildings, about 200 residential units to start, a parking garage and a 4.2-acre park.

The details of the deal are close to being finalized, but negotiations are complex and involve a number of players, including Wells Fargo, which intends to own the building. And that's where a sticking point has developed, the Star Tribune reports.

Wells wants to put its giant yellow and red logo on top the office building, to be visible to anything flying overhead – such as a blimp broadcasting a Vikings game to millions on Monday Night Football, for example.

Current city ordinances prohibit such signage. And the Vikings oppose the sign plan because it would complicated a stadium naming rights deal. Thus the moment of impasse. "It's an important issue for Wells Fargo that has to be resolved before they'll make a final commitment to moving forward," Ryan Vice President Rick Collins told the Star Tribune.

Another detail revealed Thursday: Officials plan to allow two avenues – Park and Portland – to cut through the park, perhaps "narrowed" a bit to help maintain a "park-like feel," the Star Tribune reports.

The $400 million plan has been plodding along since it was unveiled in May. It earned another first down last month when the city's Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit to developers Ryan Cos.

But time is an issue. The City Council must approve the deal, and the panel's final meeting of the year is next Friday. A new council with seven new members on the 13-member panel will be seated for the new year.

Developers hope to finalize the deal sooner than later in order to break ground in the spring.

In other news, the Vikings plan to contribute $1 million to the two-block park, the Business Journal reports. The publication posted the 8-page pdf with some of the plan details released Thursday.

See more project renderings here.

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