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New designs unveiled for downtown's Nicollet Mall

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One day after the plans for a redo of Target Center in downtown Minneapolis were released, the renovation of another area of downtown – Nicollet Mall – is in the spotlight.

Mall boosters unveiled the latest design for a makeover of the one-mile street in the heart of downtown at an event Wednesday, and held a public comment session to hear what downtown employees and residents had to say about it, the The Business Journal reports.

The new design focuses on green space, places for pedestrians to sit and visit, and outdoor amenities like fire pits, performance spaces and an ice-skating rink.

Nicollet Mall, a 12-block pedestrian and bus corridor, was first created in the 1960s and was last upgraded some 25 years ago. The city of Minneapolis and private businesses along the corridor are combining their efforts to push for the redo.

They recently hired the New York design firm James Corner Field Operations to lead the project, and officials from that firm presented their new ideas Wednesday.

Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District, said the mall needs to be "refreshed," according to Finance and Commerce. He said the facelift goes along with the transformation occurring throughout the downtown area, including the new Vikings stadium, Target Field and more residential development.

Nicollet Mall is used by 130,000 employees every day, and it has 34 million square feet of office space, according to city officials. About 35,000 people live downtown, and the city's goal is to double that to 70,000 over the next decade.

The estimated cost of the renovation is $50 million. Organizers had requested $25 million in funds from the state, but the bonding bill currently being debated in the Legislature includes slightly less than that -- $21.5 million. The rest of the funds will come from the city and private property owners along the corridor, Cramer said.

Construction work on the upgrade is expected to begin in the spring of 2015, and should take about a year to complete.

If that timetable holds true, Nicollet Mall's new look will be complete at about the same time as the renovation of Target Center is finished, the new Vikings stadium opens and the new Downtown East development is in place.

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