Graco, Inc. is last to grant MPRB trail rights

Gracos plant along the river in Northeast Minneapolis. The narrow strip of land between the river and the plant was promised for a regional trail when Graco developed the site. Now they want land to the south (right) that was recently purchased for a riverfront park.

Photo: Irene Jones, FMR

Graco, a worldwide leader in fluid handling based in Northeast Minneapolis, is refusing to fulfill the promise they made to the Twin Cities community. They will not allow a trail to be constructed on their property along the Mississippi River just south of Broadway Street.

Their promise to grant land for the trail was made in exchange for the Citys generous redevelopment package: expansion of their business very close to the Mississippi River, a street vacation, and a $730,000 subsidy.

Instead of fulfilling their promise and allowing the trail to be constructed - a great amenity for their employees, the community, and visitors to our local National Park - Graco is trying to renegotiate the agreement in an effort to gain more riverfront land. The worst part – that desired riverfront land is currently public parkland.

Is that fair? Is that the right thing to do? Is that what a good neighbor would do?

Act now! Tell Graco Inc. to keep its word and grant the trail easement immediately. Please include why the trails completion is important to you.

Timeline and background

  • 1999-2000 - The Minneapolis Above the Falls Plan, which calls for continuous parks and trails on both sides of the river north of downtown, was completed and was formally adopted by both the City and Park Board. The City updated the plan in 2012, but the alignment for the trail behind Graco remained unchanged.
  • 2000 – Graco receives several City approvals for redevelopment at their site; these include a street vacation, a conditional use permit and a subsidy through tax increment financing (TIF). As part of this agreement Graco makes a commitment to provide MPRB with a trail easement to allow a regional trail to pass between their building and the river. At this time many local residents were concerned that Gracos plans were at odds with the Above the Falls Plan because the new development would be very close to the river. The promise of a trail easement was a concession that the community accepted and the project was able to move forward.
  • 2009 – Graco receives a certificate of completion for the TIF Redevelopment Agreement. Graco is claiming the City let them out of their commitment to provide the trail easement and the Citys attorney is currently evaluating this claim.
  • 2010 – MPRB purchases 11-acre Scherer Brothers Lumberyard property adjacent to Graco and develops a plan for new park with beach and restoration of Halls Island. Graco begins to privately put pressure on MPRB to sell a portion of the Scherer property to Graco for their planned future headquarters expansion.
  • 2011 – MPRB applies for a federal grant to build the riverfront trail on the east side of the river from Nicollet Island north to the BN Bridge (18th Av NE) incorporating and connecting several new parks: BF Nelson, Boom Island, Scherer Property and Sheridan Memorial Park. Graco wrote a letter of support for this proposal, citing their support for the trail and the promised easement.
  • 2011-2012 — MPRB adopts the RiverFIRST Plan including a signature park right next to the Graco Inc. facility with a trail along the Graco Inc. property (illustration below).

    Image: RiverFirst Plan, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board

  • 2012 – MPRB receives the $1 million grant and begins finalizing trail development plans so construction can begin. Grant requires MPRB have legal control of all land for the trail by 2015.
  • 2012-2014 - Graco continues to put pressure on MPRB to sell them some of the Scherer land.
  • 2014 – As grant deadline approaches, MPRB commissioners and staff begin to worry that Gracos land will still be in dispute, putting the federal funds at risk.
  • 2015 – Graco tells MPRB that they will not grant the easement unless they can purchase two acres of riverfront parkland. MPRB passes a resolution to pursue purchase of an easement from Graco and to use condemnation if necessary. At this point the dispute becomes much more public and a series of media articles follow. The City has stepped in to help MPRB with private negotiations with Graco.

Media Coverage

Additional Information

Questions can be directed to FMR River Corridor Director Irene Jones at 651-222-2193 x11 or ijones@fmr.org.