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Star Tribune sells land to Ryan, clears way for Downtown East project

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Yet another key hurdle was cleared in the plan to revitalize five blocks of downtown Minneapolis next to the new Vikings stadium.

The Star Tribune announced it finalized the sale Tuesday of the five blocks it owned on the site, paving a path for the $400 million Downtown East project, the newspaper reported. Four blocks were sold to developer Ryan Cos., and one block to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, which is overseeing construction of the new $1 billion stadium.

Terms of the entire deal were not disclosed (a previous estimate put it at about $38 million), but the stadium authority purchased its block for $7.7 million. The project calls for that block to be turned into a six-level parking ramp.

Also included in the ambitious project: two 18-story Wells Fargo office towers, a two-block public park, 200 apartment units, and retail space. Wells Fargo has committed to moving 5,000 employees into about 1.2 million square feet of office space in the new towers.

The Star Tribune’s headquarters will be torn down, and about 600 employees will be moved next year to new offices in downtown Minneapolis, although the new location has not been finalized, the newspaper reports. The Business Journal has reported that a tentative deal has been reached to move staffers to the Capella Tower.

In a statement, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said the project will develop "a long-moribund part of our city, turning a sea of surface parking lots into a bustling, connected hub of economic activity with a new, green, public park as its centerpiece — and all without a penny of public subsidy."

Ryan officials said groundbreaking could happen as early as May. Plans call for the park and the parking ramp to be finished by the beginning of the 2016 football season, when the stadium is expected to be complete, the Pioneer Press notes.

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