The Cultural Landscape Foundation and Preservation Alliance of Minnesota File Suit Against City of Minneapolis to Protect Peavey Plaza

Media Contact:
Nord Wennerstrom | T: 202.255.7076 | E: nord@tclf.org
Will O’Keefe I T: 651.293.9047 I E: wokeefe@mnpreservation.org


The Cultural Landscape Foundation and Preservation Alliance of Minnesota File Suit Against City of Minneapolis to Protect Peavey Plaza

Washington, DC (June 28, 2012) – The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) today filed suit against the City of Minneapolis to protect Peavey Plaza from demolition (click here for a copy of the complaint). The organizations argue that the City’s intent to demolish the Plaza is a violation of the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA); specifically, Peavey Plaza is a natural resource entitled to protection under MERA, which defines historic resources as among protected natural resources.

Peavey Plaza, which has been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, is a modernist park plaza in downtown Minneapolis designed by M. Paul Friedberg that opened to the public in 1975. The Plaza is adjacent to Orchestra Hall, which is undergoing a $45 million renovation. The City of Minneapolis claims there are no reasonable alternatives to the demolition of Peavey Plaza, despite the fact that Friedberg has developed an adaptive reuse concept that addresses the plaza’s deficiencies while maintaining its signature and defining elements. On April 17, 2012, the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) voted 8-1 to deny demolition of the plaza and to order the preparation of a historic designation study. Subsequent actions by the Minneapolis City Council in May 2012 overturned the HPC’s decision and reaffirmed the City’s plans to demolish Peavey.

The Minnesota Environmental Right Act or “MERA” is a state law designed to preserve Minnesota’s natural and historic resources for future generations of Minnesotans. MERA protects natural resources from pollution, impairment or destruction. Under Section 116B.02, Subd. 4, this protection extends to historical resources like Peavey Plaza. MERA gives citizens, and groups like TCLF and PAM, the right to ask a court to enjoin the City of Minneapolis from demolishing historic resources and to force the City to consider reasonable alternatives to demolition.

“This is not the course we want to take, it’s the course the City has forced us to take,” said TCLF founder and president Charles A. Birnbaum. “City officials are possessed with the notion that Peavey must be demolished and they’ve come up with a laundry list of flimsy reasons to justify their actions. They’ve even overlooked the City’s deliberate and admitted negligence to maintain the Plaza, yet say the site’s poor condition justifies demolition. In essence, they admit that they broke it and then complain that it can’t be fixed.”

The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) listed Peavey Plaza on its 10 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2008, in response to the City’s neglect of the site and the Minnesota Orchestra’s plans for the plaza, which were undefined at the time. “We have been talking about this site’s historic significance for at least four years,” stated Erin Hanafin Berg, PAM Field Representative. “The city’s own experts—the appointed members of the Heritage Preservation Commission—agreed with the state and federal governmental agencies that have determined that Peavey is a significant historic site. MERA was set up to protect citizens’ interests, and we’re taking this action on behalf of all Minnesotans who love and respect Peavey Plaza and want to see it preserved for their children and grandchildren.”

About the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota
The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota (PAM) is a statewide, private, nonprofit historic preservation advocacy and education organization. PAM was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 1981 by Minnesota citizens concerned about the future of the state’s architectural and cultural landmarks. PAM has grown into a network representing thousands of members and stakeholders. The organization collaborates with national, state, and local partners in pursuing its mission to preserve, protect, and promote Minnesota’s historic resources.

About The Cultural Landscape Foundation
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) provides people with the ability to see, understand, and value landscape architecture and its practitioners, in the way many people have learned to do with buildings and their designers. Through its Web site, lectures, outreach, and publishing, TCLF broadens the support and understanding for cultural landscapes nationwide to help safeguard our priceless landscape heritage for future generations.

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