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Planning to begin again for historic restoration of Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis

Plans for restoration of Peavey Plaza, the much-deteriorated urban park in downtown Minneapolis, are starting to moving ahead again. City officials said today that they’re accepting proposals for a Historic Structures Report.

They said the report, when complete, “will guide engineers and landscape architects in determining what renovations are feasible while retaining the 41-year-old plaza’s historic character and significance.”

The park, built in 1974, is in such dire condition that the city was ready to begin demolition work in 2012, in preparation for an ambitious remake.

The plan at the time called for two waterfalls, water jets, a pergola along Nicollet Mall, a concession stand and bathrooms. The construction cost was estimated at $8 million to $10 million, after planning costs of $2 million. Those renovations were needed, supporters said, to make the plaza more accessible and have adequate electrical service for events.

But preservationists balked, saying it was a historic site and needed to be treated as such. The plaza was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, and after much contention, the city agreed in a settlement to abandon its initial plan and collaborate with preservations on a new renovation proposal.

The new goal is to revitalize the plaza and keep its historic character and significance.

Today’s step, announcing that the city is accepting proposals for the Historic Structures Report, means officials will get a blueprint for what can, and cannot, be done to improve the park within its historic context, said Casper Hill, a city spokesperson.

“It will show us what’s possible and a rough idea of the cost,” Hill said.

Meanwhile, at the plaza on the Nicollet Mall and 12th Street, the cascading fountain doesn’t work and its walls are stained and cracked. The fountain and pool at Peavey Plaza have been dry for years and the lower levels of the plaza are not accessible to people with disabilities, Hill said.

The city announcement says:

The City will now work with the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, Greening Downtown Minneapolis and representatives of the preservation community and other stakeholders to develop a renovation plan. That plan should be in place by 2016, with construction beginning in 2017 and a grand opening in 2018.

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