Haggling between Hennepin County and Twins heats up over transit 'hot spot' hub

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Game-goers might see nothing but a mess on the light-rail side of Target Field right now, with construction, light rail tracks and one lot torn asunder, but the Twins, Hennepin County and United Properties are gearing up for the future of a key transit hub.

The three entities are deciding how much to bank on the ongoing development in the North Loop of downtown Minneapolis, which is being called -- for now -- the "interchange," the Star Tribune reports.

Two of the interested parties--the Twins and United Properties--are owned by the Pohlad family, but Hennepin County, the Strib says, is "driving" the $79.3 million project.

Calling it "a workhorse, not a show pony," Rochelle Olson reports that the area is potentially a "hot spot" for entertainment and travelers from all over town who might use the various transit lines--Hiawatha, Central and eventually Bottineau and Southwest light-rail, as well as the Northstar commuter rail--that will stop there. The bigger goal purportedly is for a full-blown entertainment and dining district.

Just a year ago the project was short some $22 million, but the county pressed on anyway. And in January 2012, Finance and Commerce reported the Hennepin County had opened up an RFP for what was then supposed to be a $67-million development.

Earlier this month, the Star Tribune reported that The Minnesota Ballpark Authority voted to spend up to $300,000 on public art near the interchange, presuming granite walls of a planned amphitheater, cisterns near a parking garage driveway and benches at the top of a cascading stairway leading to a "great lawn."

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, the public point man for negotiations, tells the Strib: “It just depends on how fast we can get the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed.”

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