[Updated] Statement on 37th Ave. NE & University Ave.
UPDATE 7/30/2019 — As of July 23rd, Metropolitan Transportation Network (MTN) has formally terminated its Purchase Agreement with the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA) for surplus property at 37th and University Avenues in Northeast Minneapolis. As a result of the termination, MTN no longer has site control necessary for redevelopment—meaning that MTN is no longer pursuing plans to construct a bus barn on the intersection of 37th and University Avenue at this time.
Hennepin County staff leaders will review the best way to proceed with selling or otherwise using the land at this site in the coming weeks and months. All land sales must be approved by the HCRRA Board of Commissioners.
The original statement below was published on 7/9/2019
The corner site at 37th Ave. NE & University Ave. has been at the center of public debate in recent weeks as Hennepin County continues its efforts to sell this parcel.
Definition of Terms:
CP – (Canadian Pacific Railroad) A railroad company with operations across North America
HCRRA – (Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority) A subdivision of Hennepin County government focused on implementing Light Rail Transit in Hennepin County
LRT – Light Rail Transit
MTN – (Metropolitan Transportation Network) A Minnesota-based transit organization dedicated to providing quality transportation to residents
NEOO Partners – A Minnesota-based Real Estate Organization which focuses on small-to-medium sized clients. They serve as MTN’s Real Estate representatives.
Surplus Land - Excess real estate; often unused by its owner
The corner site at 37th Ave. NE & University Ave. was originally purchased by both HCRRA and CP as a possible LRT corridor. However, with no LRT projects pending in this area, Hennepin County has since identified this site as “surplus land”.
As a result, efforts to sell this site to MTN for use as a bus yard began in 2018. This required Hennepin County to 1) purchase the land they did not own at the site from CP, and 2) authorize staff to negotiate a purchase agreement with MTN. This purchase from CP and staff authorization was passed by the previous County Board in 2018 prior to Commissioner Fernando’s inauguration.
What is the current Purchase Agreement?
The current purchase agreement states that MTN will buy the site at 37th Ave. NE & University Ave. for a price of $1.85 million. However, the purchase is contingent on MTN’s ability to secure financing and municipal approval for its purchase before Aug. 2, 2019. Should MTN not fulfill these obligations by Aug. 2, 2019, they can waive those contingencies or terminate the purchase agreement. If MTN satisfies or waives the contingencies in the purchase agreement by Aug 2, 2019, a closing date is anticipated on or before Aug. 30th.
So What’s the Problem?
In order to satisfy the contingency in the current purchase agreement, MTN must receive municipal approval. However, there is little to no time remaining to secure the required approval before the contingency period ends.
What is Commissioner Fernando’s Position?
Commissioner Fernando was inaugurated after the County Board authorized the purchase of the 37th Ave. NE & University Ave. site. Commissioner Fernando met with NEOO Development Partners at their request, provided them with information regarding potential funding streams, and directed them towards appropriate County staff leaders. She did not take a formal position on the project during that meeting.
It is Commissioner Fernando’s position that the purchase agreement should not be extended beyond Aug. 2, 2019 if MTN and NEOO partners cannot outline a reasonable path for securing the necessary municipal approval.