Pop-up parks arrive downtown

Includes a VIDEO featuring a discussion about Peavey Plaza's future

City Council Member Lisa Goodman and Downtown Council CEO Steve Cramer in the Peavey Plaza pop-up park. Credit: Photo by Sarah McKenzie

Peavey Plaza and the IDS Center are home to new pop-up parks dubbed parklots. 

The mini parks are a collaboration of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the Hennepin Theatre Trust and Bank of America.

The IDS Center pop-up park is at the building’s entrance on 8th Street. Designed by the Students for Design Activism at the University of Minnesota, the gathering place has benches, standing tables wrapped in colorful knit covers and a little free library.

“Part of our long-term vision for Downtown Minneapolis is engaging all our city blocks with energy, entertainment and opportunities,” said Tom Hoch, board chair of the Downtown Council and Downtown Improvement District. “These parklots add incredible placemaking to the areas in which they’re located. Downtown workers can stop by for a mid-day picnic, families can enjoy activities and visitors can witness incredible views of downtown as they tour our city.”

The Peavey Plaza pop-up park at Nicollet Mall and 11th Street features bright green decals encouraging passersby to enjoy the space by dancing, playing piano or board games. A soccer net has been setup as well as boards for bean bag tossing.

There will also be free CorePower Yoga classes in July and fitness classes from the YWCA, among other activities. For more details go to www.downtownmpls.com/peavey.

Volunteers will also be planting flowers to spruce up the heavily-concrete space.

City Council Member Lisa Goodman and Downtown Council CEO Steve Cramer gathered at Peavey Plaza on Wednesday for a press conference to discuss the future of the site.

The city is seeking bids for a study of Peavey Plaza’s historic significance to determine how best to proceed on a new vision for a renovation. The plaza, constructed in 1974, is in need of significant rehabilitation. Its cascading fountain features haven’t worked for years, the former pool area has long been dry, and it isn’t compliant with the American Disabilities Act.

The goal is to have a new renovation plan in place in 2016, start construction in 2017 and have renovations complete in 2018. A budget plan hasn’t been determined, but $2 million in state bonding remains a funding source, Cramer said. 

An earlier proposal to revitalize Peavey Plaza was thwarted when historic preservations sued the city in June 2012. Designed by landscape architect M. Paul Friedberg, it has been considered an icon of modernist architecture and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 2013.

The city settled the lawsuit in the fall of 2013 and agreed to work with preservationists on a new plan for the plaza.

Goodman said the litigation resulted in a “big missed opportunity” for the city since it would have made more sense to have a renovated Peavey Plaza open the same time the redesigned Nicollet Mall is completed. The mall renovation is on track to be done by early to mid-2017. 

“We really need a new vision — a vision that makes this plaza more green, a vision that makes it more accessible and brings it back to the days of 1974 when people really saw this plaza as our town square,” Goodman said.