Dayton’s bonding bill has $20 million for Nicollet Mall redesign


Gov. Mark Dayton released his proposed $986 million bonding bill Wednesday — a proposal that includes $20 million for a Nicollet Mall redesign and $7 million for a renovation of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

For the second year, however, Dayton’s bonding proposal does not include funding for the $1.55 billion Southwest LRT line. Dayton is a supporter of the project and project planners are still hoping to secure state dollars along with money from federal and other local sources.

City leaders, meanwhile, are pleased about Dayton’s support for the Nicollet Mall makeover. They will be pushing for the $25 million requested for the project, however, said Matt Laible, a spokesman for the city.

Mayor Betsy Hodges said Dayton’s proposed $20 million in bonding is a “strong start” for the $53 million project.

“Nicollet Mall is the economic heart of Minnesota,” she said. “It is home to Fortune 500 companies, major retail, more than 100,000 employees and millions of visitors a year, all of whom pump millions of dollars into Minnesota’s economy every day.”

Project supporters are working to court private contributions to fund the rest of the bill for the Nicollet Mall redesign.

The City Council selected New York-based James Corner Field Operations in October to lead the redesign project. The designer has worked on high profile projects like the High Line in New York City and the Queen Elizabeth Park in London.

Nicollet Mall had granite pavers installed in 1991 that have not weathered Minnesota winters well. The mall also has aging light poles and planters in need of repairs.

Project planners are hoping to get funding in place to be able to start construction in spring of 2015.

If the Legislature approves Dayton’s $7 million in bonding for the Sculpture Garden, it would go toward a $10 million makeover that would include new irrigation and drainage system for the park, along with new walkways and retaining walls.

Dayton said his bonding bill would create more than 27,000 new jobs.

“My proposals will put thousands of Minnesotans to work throughout our state,” Dayton said. “This bill gives priority to projects that are ready to go. Many of them have been delayed for years and are crucial to revitalizing downtown business centers, modernizing MnSCU and U of M buildings and classrooms, and improving parks, roads and local infrastructure.” 

The 2014 legislative session starts Feb. 25.