North Minneapolis Waterfront revealed

After more than two and a half years of community meetings and engagement, draft plans for the redevelopment of a mile-long riverfront site in North Minneapolis were revealed August 15.

Located two miles north of downtown between the Lowry Avenue and Camden Bridges, the Upper Harbor Terminal site is the largest remaining single-owner development opportunity along the Mississippi River. The proposal calls for transforming this former barge shipping terminal into space for private and public uses including a riverfront park and a community performing arts center.

The draft calls for a dramatic overhaul of the Upper Harbor Terminal site, aiming to turn the long-closed port into both a regional attraction and a beneficial part of the North Minneapolis community.

Created by the city of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the master development team United Properties, Thor Construction and First Avenue, the plan calls for a three-phase approach.

In phase one, a riverfront destination will be created just south of Dowling Avenue North. This would include the Community Performing Arts Center, two new parks, a public plaza on Dowling Avenue at the river and improvements to the Dowling Bridge over Interstate-94.

FMR is still developing comments on the draft plan but see several welcome components. The Dowling bridge improvements included – something FMR has long pushed for to improve pedestrian and bicycle access over I-94 between the heart of the Northside and the Mississippi River.

The performing arts center, which will provide a new and different way for people from throughout the region to experience the riverfront will provide a new community space as well.

They are concerned about the balance of public and private land uses on this city-owned property and want to hear more from community members about their ideas and concerns. FMR staff are consulting with community partners, the city, the park board and the development team, and will be drafting comments to share in the near future.

Work on phase one could begin as soon as 2020.  The second phase would aim to build community with opportunities for private development, residential space and commercial space along the river parkland and toward I-94.

The third phase, which isn’t expected to occur for several years, calls for the land furthest from Dowling to be left open in order to accommodate future market conditions and community ideas.

The Community Performing Arts Center portion of the redevelopment is being led by First Avenue. They’re proposing a flexible, 2-acre space just south of Dowling Avenue North that can accommodate 10,000 people outdoors and several hundred indoors.

Several public meetings were held in August when staff shared the proposal with the community. The next community meeting is on Saturday, September 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Ave. N.

The community meeting will begin with a presentation followed by time for questions and discussion. The “open hours” session will be less formal and offer community members a chance to stop by to get information and provide feedback.

A development team that includes United Properties, THOR Companies and First Avenue Productions helped draft the proposal. That team was selected by the City, which currently owns the Upper Harbor Terminal site, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, which will oversee the future park. The City and the Park Board will use comments from meetings to determine whether the proposal provides a basic framework that, with additional community input, could be refined into a concept plan that the City, the Park Board and development team could all support.

The full presentation is posted on the project website An online survey, summaries as they occur and announcements about any other input opportunities will be posted there in the coming weeks.