The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) has completed its first two rounds of involving the public in the planning of Graco Park and has scheduled one more virtual open house to gather opinions before putting the project out for bids later this month or in early February. Construction would begin in the fall.
The latest iteration presented a park with a heavy emphasis on restoring natural habitat along the Mississippi, much like what has already occurred on neighboring Hall’s Island.
According to the landscape architect’s website, “The design reflects patterns of the river to inform spaces and landscape types. Five main features define the park: two broad tree-lined promenades, a river walk, a flexible green, and a building/plaza zone. The southern promenade leads from the corner of Sibley [Street] and Plymouth [Avenue] down to a boardwalk and boat rental shelter at the water’s edge. At the river, a walk defines seating areas, habitat structures, high canopy forest, and plantings.”
An overlook will provide views of Hall’s Island and downtown Minneapolis.
A multi-purpose park building would echo the lines of the former Scherer Bros. lumberyard structures which once occupied the land. It will include a large open space for performances, fitness classes, community meetings and workshops. A second space will serve as an expanded lobby for informal gatherings or independent work and includes an enclosed conference room; the third space will house MPRB’s program to introduce teens to creativity and technology.
The timber-framed building is also designed to be sustainable. It will have wildlife-friendly glass. A wood scrim that protects the building from solar heat gain in summer will allow low winter light to warm spaces in winter. Energy-saving technology includes a geothermal heat pump and photovoltaic panels on the south roof. And, of course, a strategically placed rain garden will capture runoff from the building.
The park will be built in phases. Landscaping and the park building come first. A lighted underpass will be built under the Plymouth Avenue Bridge to connect the park to Boom Island Park. This underpass will allow bikers and hikers to travel from Sheridan Memorial Park along the river to Hennepin Avenue without having to cross busy streets.
Second-phase construction will include a picnic shelter, a watercraft rental facility, an eagle’s nest sculpture on Hall’s Island and possibly a building for a food vendor.
Residents still have an opportunity to comment on the plans. Go to https://aflandarc.com/graco -park-community-engagement-3/.
MPRB will hold a virtual community open house on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 4:30-6 p.m. on Zoom. The meeting ID is 837 1774 1549.
Below: Architect rendering. (Provided graphic)