The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has released its preferred concept for Graco Park, a stretch of riverfront next to the northeast Minneapolis manufacturer of fluid-handling equipment.
The design includes two tree-lined promenades, a river walk, a lawn for multiple uses and a building that would include bathrooms, flexible community gathering spaces and a creation lab to introduce teenagers to multimedia technology, which are part of the parks’ efforts to bolster educational youth programming.
The southern promenade would extend to a boardwalk and boat rental operation at the water’s edge. The park’s northern edge would end at a promontory with a view of the Minneapolis skyline.
The park, which parallels the Hall’s Island wildlife refuge in the Mississippi River, will restore habitat for turtles, birds, snakes and small mammals, including mink, muskrat, beaver and otter. Plans include human-made and natural sculptures, and a water feature for habitat creation.
The new building would incorporate bird-friendly glass and energy-efficient technology, including a geothermal heat pump, photovoltaic panels and a stormwater garden. Its pitched roof is a callback to the former Scherer Brothers lumberyard, which occupied the site from 1930 to 2010.
The Park Board has long wanted a walking and bicycling path along the west and north sides of the Graco Inc. manufacturing plant. In return for assistance from the city to redevelop its campus, Graco agreed to grant an easement on its property for the trail in 2000.
However, when a decade passed and the Park Board had not begun construction on the trail, Graco representatives claimed the city had released the company from its commitment to provide the easement. The Park Board disagreed. A costly legal fight ensued, culminating in a 2018 settlement in which Graco and its charitable foundation agreed to donate more than $5 million to fund a public park named after the company. In return, the Park Board agreed to sell Graco a 2.2-acre parcel for $1.1 million.
Minneapolis rarely names a park after a corporate entity, but another example is Xcel Field Park.
The concept was developed after two rounds of community engagement with hundreds of participants. A virtual open house is scheduled Jan. 11 on Zoom. There will be a public hearing on the final concept before Park Board commissioners consider the plan for approval.
If the plan is approved, contract bids would be taken in the spring with construction anticipated in the summer.
A flythrough of the preferred concept is available on YouTube.