Updated: 12/10/2013 7:43 AM
Created: 12/09/2013 4:59 PM KSTP.com
By: Stephen Tellier
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS got a first look at what an indoor golf driving range would look like on top of a downtown Minneapolis parking ramp.
It's a $70-80 million proposal, which also includes playing fields and a youth center, on top of Ramp A and the Hawthorne Transportation Center, right next to Target Field.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was the first to report on the proposal last month, and it could take another big step forward on Tuesday.
It looks like a massive circus tent perched atop a parking ramp -- and people will play golf inside of it.
This is just a wild fantasy, right?
"Oh no, it's a wonderful idea," said El Tinklenberg, with a laugh.
Tinklenberg is working as a consultant on the project, which he said would be unlike any other in the country. He's a former MnDOT commissioner, and said the development could be just as significant as the National Sports Center in Blaine and the Hiawatha Light Rail line.
"We're creating an amenity in downtown out of space that is otherwise totally underutilized," Tinklenberg said.
The proposal would transform Ramp A into a kind of Ramp A to Z. It includes an outdoor green space, and inside, a club house, locker rooms, retail and food services, playing fields, a walking and running track, a youth center, and education facilities.
Tinklenberg said it would combine for-profit and non-profit activities, all skyway-connected.
"What I really liked about it was there's the recreation aspect to it as well, and then there's a community aspect," said Nick Cichowicz, the board president for the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association.
The developers presented the proposal to the Association a few weeks ago.
"It seemed really cool. We thought, 'This seems very cutting edge, very Minneapolis,'" Cichowicz said.
But he said it's still short on details.
"We have a lot of questions about funding sources. What are the actual programs that they want to have there?" Cichowicz said.
Tinklenberg said answers will come as design work continues, and the Ramp A revamp revs up.
"We want this to be a unique part of what's great about living in and visiting downtown Minneapolis," Tinklenberg said.
Before the proposal can move forward, the city of Minneapolis needs to lease the airspace above those parking ramps from MnDOT, which owns it. The City would then lease the airspace to private developers. Two city council committees will vote Tuesday on whether to allow lease negotiations to move forward.
Tinklenberg said the project would be 100 percent privately financed -- no taxpayer dollars necessary.
Construction likely wouldn't begin before 2015.