Ryan’s Downtown East project taking shape in Minneapolis

Downtown East City_Nightby Dan Rafter

Ryan Companies US and Wells Fargo broke ground on the massive Downtown East mixed-use development in downtown Minneapolis in late spring. And since that time? Tony Barranco, vice president of development with Ryan Companies, said that the site “has been buzzing.”

And all the activity has given Barranco and others working on Downtown East a truer picture of just how this development will change the look of downtown Minneapolis.

“Sometimes you work on projects like these with so many players, you get caught in the weeds of solving problems and focusing on the small details,” Barranco said. “Then you see the site and all the activity. It’s hard not to see the impact that this project is having on the area. It’s obviously a great feeling to be part of this.”

That impact that Barranco mentions? It’s far from an insignificant one. The $400 million mixed-use Downtown East development will cover a five-block 12.5-acre area near the new Minnesota Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

The Downtown East project will include 1.1 million square feet of office space in two 17-story office towers owned by Wells Fargo, 193 market-rate apartments, about 24,000 square feet of retail, a six-level parking ramp containing 1,610 parking spaces to be owned by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority and a nearly two-block urban park physically connecting the new Vikings Stadium to the core of downtown Minneapolis.

The construction alone of Downtown East will collectively create jobs for about 3,400 tradespeople.

Downtown East will be a busy site once construction is complete. Wells Fargo alone plans to move 5,000 of its employees into the two 17-story office towers. Wells Fargo paid Ryan Cos. $217 million for the two office towers and the land under it.

The project will also create a pedestrian-friendly urban area near the new Vikings NFL stadium being built now by Mortenson Construction of Golden Valley, Minn. The stadium is scheduled to open in July of 2016.

Barranco said that construction on Downtown East is moving along on schedule. The parking ramp is due to open near Jan. 1 of 2016, while the two Wells Fargo office towers should open in February and April of that year. The first phase of the residential portion of Downtown East is expected to open in late spring of 2016.

Barranco said, too, that he is happy to see the opening of the Green Line light-rail system that trakes commuters from St. Paul and Minneapolis. The line boasts 18 new stops, including, of course, one for Downtown East.

“Seeing the light-rail ridership grow and pass through the area already has been a tremendous thing to see,” Barranco said. “We’re all excited about seeing some of the structures take a bit of shape already. You can already see a hint of how this project is going to look once it’s completed.”

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