Minneapolis city and park officials are now formally seeking a developer with the right touch for transforming its abandoned barge terminal site into something more appealing.
A long-awaited request to development teams to submit their qualifications for planning redevelopment of the 48-acre Upper Harbor Terminal has been issued by the Community Planning and Economic Development agency and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
The skinny riverfront site is the city’s largest parcel of developable land. Shipping ended there in late 2014, and the city and Park Board decided to seek a master developer to help them split the site into public and private uses.
The winning team will work with that two-headed set of bosses. Their goal will be a plan that coordinates parks along the riverside with taxpaying uses such as a business park. That will focus initially on the north half of the site, but the public solicitation leaves open the possibility of adding the southern end for the right development plan. There’s also the possibility of further work for the city or park agencies for follow-up detailed design.
The winner would get first crack at actually carrying out private development in areas identified for such development. But the city is also seeking ideas from developers who have proposals for smaller portions of the site.
Responses are due by Oct. 14 with a selection to be made by the City Council and Park Board early next year. Actual development isn’t foreseen until 2019 for privately financed work, with park and other public improvements depending on available money.
The terminal site now consists of land once used for storage of commodities, including remnant buildings and equipment that handled the goods moving up and down the river. It’s likely that some preservation of those structures will be required, which limits development flexibility unless they’re incorporated in new activities.
The solicitation released this week seeks a redevelopment that provides jobs and avoids gentrification, creates a park eventually linking with others on the river, connects with nearby neighborhoods, brings high-quality development involving local businesses, and has sustainable design. One key goal is adding a people-drawing destination where Dowling Avenue N. nears the river.
The choice of a developer has the potential to be the most influential decision affecting the upper waterfront since the RiverFirst competition that produced that river-oriented design plan in 2012.
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438
(Photo above: View of the terminal's north end from the elevator tower. City-provided photo.)