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Fuji Ya Initiative Announced at Minneapolis Park Board Meeting

Paul Reyelts of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation presented a vision for the former Fuji Ya site on the Dowtown Minneapolis Riverfront at Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board meeting last Wednesday, June 15, 2011.

Presentation by Paul Reyelts, Minneapolis Parks Foundation Board Treasurer and Board Member at the June 15, 2011

Meeting Notes

Working on this idea for the past year

- Believe it has “broad interest and support for the development of a public reuse plan” for the site.

- Plan to attract private resources to support development of the site

- Intention is that the site would be dedicated to public use, not for private use

- Site is not addressed in the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MRDI)

- Proposal would be complimentary to the MRDI

Four major reason to give focus and priority to the Fuji Ya site:

1. The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) owns the land

2. Site is very close to Downtown Minneapolis

3. If properly developed, the site could be the major Downtown gateway to the river and to the Stone Arch Bridge

4. The Stone arch Loop already has an estimated 3/4 of a million visitors annually passing near the site

The proposal would enhance the experience for visitors and at the same time develop revenue generating opportunities that support the financial sustainability of the sites amenities.

The Proposal:

Minneapolis Park Foundation will engage a team of professionals that has agreed to develop a Phase 1 Fuji Ya site master plan and program.

Paul Reyelts will fund these services through the Minneapolis Parks Foundation (MPF).

The MPF Executive Committee will oversee the development of the plan.

Only Public use of the site is envisioned.

Paul Reyelts does not live near or own property in the vicinity of the Fuji Ya site.  Nor does he have any personal or financial interest in this proposal.

The MPF will coordinate with the MPRB on getting Citizen input the MPRB Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) process.

The goal of Phase 1 is the creation of a visual presentation summarizing the findings of the MPF and a recommended vision for the site development, along with next steps in the development process.

Assuming that the site master plan has the support of the MPRB, the MPF, and the community, Paul Reyelts is prepared to provide “material financial support” for the development project, and with the MPF he will champion private sector fundraising efforts.


Like the Founders of the Minneapolis Park System, the MPF and supporters want to leave a legacy for future generations. This premise is the reason behind Paul Reyelts commitment.


Hope that CAC will start within the next month.

Phase 1 process completed in a 3 month timeframe.

MPRB Commissioners Reactions:

Commissioner Anita Tabb – “This has a lot of very exciting potential.” “I’m delighted to see people have a real interest in Downtown Minneapolis.” “I think projects like this will continue to make our city a great place to be, and hopefully attract more people to Downtown.”

Commissioner Scott Vreeland – “What we have there is this great treasure with 7 different archeological ruins that can be accessed.”

Board President Erwin – “This is not only a wonderful gift you’re giving the Park Board, but this is a great kick-off for the Foundation to help the Foundation a key project that they focus on that I think will be successful…it’s a broader area than just the Fuji Ya site itself…the site extends all the way to the 3rd Ave Bridge…

Fuji Ya Site Background

1968: Fuji Ya moved to 420 S. 1st St. in Minneapolis, a chic riverfront structure of glass, oak and rough cedar, designed by architect Newton Griffin, based upon a plan by Shinichi Okada. It was constructed over the ruins of the 1878 Standard Mill. Owner Reiko Weston bought the land, 2.7 acres, for $20,000 in 1961.

1990: Fuji Ya closes. After extensive litigation, the Minneapolis Park Board buys out the Weston family for $3.5 million in an out-of-court settlement.

Background on Mr. Reyelts

Paul Reyelts served as the Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer of The Valspar Corporation, a global leader in the coatings industry, from April 1982 until February 2008. He remained an Executive Vice President of Valspar Corporation until his retirement in May 2009. In addition, Mr. Reyelts serves on the Board of Trustees of Minnesota Public Radio, the Advisory Board of the University of Minnesota College of Design and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation Board.

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