Simplified: It started out as an ice ribbon and accessible playground. Today, the plans for Jacobson Plaza have expanded to add even more features – and a cost that's quadruple the initial estimate.

Why it matters

  • From the start, the downtown park has only been possible because of private donors. The Jacobson family's initial donation of $2 million sparked a master plan for the park – located just south of Falls Park and north of the Levitt.
  • Now, with two more large donations – including $1.5 million from T. Denny Sanford and $1 million from the Lloyd family – the city will be able to complete the entire master plan for the park at one time for a total cost of $16.5 million.
  • Those donations will only be made if the City Council approves an additional $3 million in public dollars to the project. The city has already agreed to spend $5.5 million to develop this downtown park.
"It's all about balancing priorities," Councilor Alex Jensen said. "I think continuing to strengthen our downtown is going to be something that I believe the City Council and administration will want to continue to move forward."

Tell me more about the park features

Jacobson Plaza will include:

  • A 14,000-square-foot refrigerated ice ribbon
  • A more than 26,000-square-foot inclusive playground. (That's larger than all five play pods at Sertoma Park, which make up a combined 19,250 square feet.)
  • A warming house, seating and food.

The park will also include a state-of-the-art dog park, funded in part by the Lloyd family's donation. It'll be called "Pawsible Park at Jacobson Plaza."

Sanford's donation will go toward a modern splash pad to be called the "T. Denny Sanford Splash Pad at Jacobson Plaza."

The ultimate goal is to have a place downtown where people can find activities any time of year, Mayor Paul TenHaken said.

"This will be a year-round activated space, and, quite honestly, at $16.5 million will be a jewel for the community," TenHaken said.

Why do all of this at one time?

Being able to build the entire master plan all at once will minimize disruption to the park and to downtown, Parks Director Don Kearney said.

It'll also mean the park construction can take place alongside the Steel District and nearby River Greenway expansion.

What happens next?

City Council first needs to approve the city's additional contribution to the park. That'll be on the agenda next week.

If approved, the plan is to go to bid this summer, right after the city goes to bid for the river greenway expansion.

"From the beginning this has been a 50/50 public-private partnership between the city and the Jacobson family, and it's important that we as a city step up to be good partners," Parks Director Don Kearney said.