6. Farmers Market: Next Steps
David Frank provided some background on the Farmers Market; it has been a primary focus area of 2020 Partners for years. For the past few meetings we have been discussing what 2020 Partners should do, how they should be engaged. 2020 Partners is about facilitating more connections and more development; not based on design but about making this happen, providing leadership, and sending the message that we are here to help make things happen.
Ralph Strangis disclosed that his law firm represents Bill McGuire, owner of a soccer team that is one level below MLS. The soccer team currently plays in Blaine, or when weather necessitates indoors at the Dome. Mr. McGuire is looking at alternate sites, including the Farmers Market area, to build a 15,000-25,000 seat major league soccer stadium. A first-class soccer stadium costs about 10% of what it costs to build a football stadium, and it works at the Farmers Market site. Soccer attracts a younger demographic that is more likely to use public transit. Mr. Strangis asked if 2020 Partners is interested in expressing support for a soccer field, and read the following Statement of Support: “The 2020 Partners organization encourages Minnesota United FC to explore the Farmers Market site for a soccer stadium as the potential anchor for development of a multi-use complex, retaining as a key element the Farmers Market with improved facilities, and maximizing the development opportunity from the existing and planned transit improvements.”
Q: Bruce Lambrecht asked who would be in charge, who is the leader. He said that Mr. McGuire had a meeting with Dave Albersman but after initial excitement the project fell flat. Someone has to work on it.
A: That’s Bill’s question. He’s not going to individually fund the development. He wants to get people other than himself involved. This will take some involvement from a governmental unit, and that hasn’t happened.
Q: Going to the next level, Populous has experience with soccer stadiums. They could develop some renderings.
A: Mr. McGuire has decided to use the same architects as the Vikings [Ryan].
There was some discussion about using land owned by Metro Transit near I-94/I-394. Metro Transit intends to use that as a companion bus facility to the Heywood Garage. Mr. Strangis said the size of the site needed is 8 acres, and that it fits into the Farmers Market site. What is attractive about the Farmers Market site – transit – is what is missing in Blaine. Mr. McGuire has met with Chuck Leer about the land owners/land assembly near the Farmers Market.
Chuck Leer reported that part of getting this out on the table is to see if there is interest. The business owners who expressed interest in land assembly for the Vikings are still interested, as confirmed by Duane Petersen of Stark Electronics. It is hard to get things started, and they don’t want to wade into water without community support. For 2020 Partners, it’s all about connections. With the Royalston Station, there hasn’t been much momentum for turning that into a development opportunity.
Kathleen Anderson asked about the future of the Farmers Market. David Frank replied that from the perspective of 2020 Partners, we love it, want it to stay, thrive and grow more or less where it is. Minneapolis wants it, wants current growers to stay in place. Mr. Strangis reminded us that the Statement in Support says “retaining as a key element the Farmers Market” so that will be included in any development.
At the conclusion of discussion on the topic, the members present by affirmation unanimously approved the Statement.