The Calhoun-Harriet Master Plan under consideration this week highlights the possibility of redeveloping a large surface parking lot near 3033 Excelsior Blvd. jointly owned by The Ackerberg Group and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
“This master plan sets the stage for possible private/public cooperative redevelopment of the lot into a ramp that also provides at-grade retail, concessions or services for park users,” states the plan.
Private development should benefit park users and expand parking and transit connections, according to the plan.
Stuart Ackerberg said he’s participated in conceptual discussions related to the parking lot, and said he’s interested in the site.
“If and when the time were right we would love to brainstorm with the Park Board or whomever the right party to try and see what might be the highest and best use for that site,” he said. “We own a portion, and the Park Board owns a portion, and certainly a huge surface parking lot is not the highest and best use for that site.”
Ackerberg said he’s not considering selling the nearby Lake Calhoun Center at this time.
The master plan envisions a wide promenade in the area that could be used for races or food trucks and connect the lakes, nearby businesses and the Midtown Greenway.
In addition, the lake’s sailing school could relocate from the northeast corner near Tin Fish to the northwest corner, according to the plan. The school’s new lakeside building could provide restrooms and a Chain of Lakes visitor center.
The Park Board received mixed feedback about the idea of relocating the sailing school.
Members of the West Calhoun Neighborhood Council said they don’t want their de facto neighborhood park (currently used for baseball, lacrosse, soccer, astronomy nights and movie nights) reduced in size.
A top priority for the neighborhood is to fix chronic flooding, which can leave the park unusable for much of the summer. The northwest portion of the lake was once a wetland, and it was filled in the 1900s under the oversight of Theodore Wirth. A failed storm sewer there increases the likelihood of flooding as well.
The master plan recommends reducing the size of the park’s lawn and elevating it to provide stormwater storage underneath.