Updated: 07/14/2013 10:39 PM
Created: 07/14/2013 9:23 PM KSTP.com
By: Jay Kolls
A $45-million Minneapolis parking ramp, built with taxpayer-backed financing, will have valuable "air space" above it for sale.
But, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS has learned the lucrative air space will not, initially, be put out for public bids. Instead, Ryan Companies, will have the first shot at purchasing and developing the valuable space above the parking ramp, which will be built across from the new Vikings Stadium.
Hamline University economic development expert, David Schultz, tells 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the air space will be "extremely valuable development property for condominiums, retail, offices, or even a high-rise hotel and not putting it out for a bid is not the in the best interest of taxpayers."
Schultz says most cities, with projects of this size, usually auction the air space or take bids from private contractors, or developers. Schultz says when bidding on projects of this magnitude does not happen "it usually means there is a sweetheart deal in place."
Minneapolis taxpayers will back the financing of the parking ramp, the Minnesota Sports Authority will own it and Ryan Companies will build it.
A Ryan Companies spokesperson told us the company has until February of next year to find a partner for the development of the air space. If they do not have one in place by then, the air space will go up for sale to the highest bidder.