Regents discuss uses for recently-purchased land in Prospect Park

The University of Minnesota Foundation Real Estate Advisors presented an overview of Motley’s area plans Friday.

The Motley neighborhood of Prospect Park as seen on Sunday, Oct. 14 in Minneapolis. Motley is considered to be a gateway between the University of Minnesota and Prospect Park.

Courtney Deutz

The Motley neighborhood of Prospect Park as seen on Sunday, Oct. 14 in Minneapolis. Motley is considered to be a gateway between the University of Minnesota and Prospect Park.

Imani Cruzen

The University of Minnesota is seeking feedback on the future of recently-purchased land in Prospect Park.

The University of Minnesota Foundation Real Estate Advisors, who purchased parcels of land near campus in June, presented their progress and ideas for the area to the Board of Regents at Friday’s meeting. UMFREA is working with investors, stakeholders and students to identify the best uses for the area, said UMFREA managing director Sarah Harris.

Working with UMarq Investments through a partnership called Visus, UMFREA’s “Motley” development could include new businesses, parks and housing, according to the presentation.

Harris and Vice President of University Services Mike Berthelsen presented to the board.  Regent Richard Beeson said having outside developers undertake the project is important to the area’s success.

“We can’t develop this on our own,” Beeson said. “We don’t have the networks, we don’t have the expertise.”

While most regents expressed excitement about Visus’ work, Regent Ken Powell said it’s important the University makes sure it has enough of an investment in the project.

“But how do we make sure that we have enough control over [our partnerships], so that part of the vision of this is that we’re translating this highly-valuable real estate and access to our campus community into a really positive and ongoing revenue stream for the University?” Powell said.

Diversified housing options around the University are part of Motley’s vision, said Visus Executive Director Brandon Champeau. This could include affordable housing for faculty and staff and residential spaces for alumni to come back and mentor current students, he said.

The area could also identify and fulfill students’ retail and green space needs, Champeau said.

“What kind of experience do people want as they’re walking, biking through this area? Do they want multiple green spaces or one large green space? What kind of stores and restaurants and things are missing?” he said.

Motley plans to regularly meet with members of the Prospect Park Alliance, City of Minneapolis and campus community in the coming months. After bringing the project to the City this spring, Visus hopes to have a solidified vision ready for next fall.

“The future of our University plays a central role in the future of our region,” Champeau said. “And so it’s our overall objective here to make sure that we create a plan that becomes a point of pride and a competitive advantage for the University and for the region.”