Interchange project approved

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June 27, 2012 by Sarah M

// By Nick Halter // 

Construction is expected to begin in mid-July on a $79.2 million project to completely renovate the north side of Target Field, where roughly 8,000 fans catch light rail trains.

On June 26, the Hennepin County Board, on a 5-1 vote, approved the project, picked Knutson Construction as the contractor and made about $22 million in county money available.

Hennepin County Project Manager Ed Hunter said the plan is for a two-year construction that would finish before the start of the 2014 Twins season as well as before the addition of Central Corridor Light Rail to the hub.

Between the Hiawatha light rail line and the North Star commuter line, about 250 trains leave or arrive the station every day, according to Hennepin County. When Central Corridor comes on line in 2014, that number is expected to top 500.

The Interchange project will include new loading platforms, a split-level plaza with a “Cascade” staircase linking the upper and lower levels and a large green lawn.

The state has kicked in $17.2 million, the federal government has contributed $20.5 million and the Ballpark Authority another $1.5 million. Hennepin County plans to sell development rights on the plaza, which could be for restaurants or retailers. It will also collect revenue from about 250 parking spaces below the plaza.

“We’re cautiously bullish on the development potential here,” Hunter said.

Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin says the county may also sell naming rights to the plaza.

“Naming rights is a possibility. It’s in discussions,” McLaughlin said. “That will be something to help defray the construction costs.”

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