A former port on the Mississippi River in north Minneapolis is closer to being reinvented as a mixed-use development, featuring parkland and a riverside amphitheater.
City Council and Park Board committees this week advanced plans to work with United Properties to redevelop the 48-acre site known as the Upper Harbor Terminal. More planning will begin once the parties negotiate and formally approve an exclusive rights agreement. The team estimates the conceptual design process will take at least one year and additional time will be required for detailed design and construction plans.
“Although we have an unanswered questions about sound, people are excited about an entertainment venue on the river in north Minneapolis,” City Council President Barb Johnson said at a committee meeting Tuesday.
The port is in her ward, and she said people are interested in the jobs that could come with redevelopment. The port, owned by the city, has been vacant since the end of 2014.
United Properties’ pitch for the site — the only submission the city and Park Board received — includes 180,000 square feet of manufacturing space, up to 150,000 square feet of office space, no more than 70,000 square feet of retail, and 700 to 1,000 housing units in addition to the amphitheater and parkland. Thor Construction and First Avenue are among United Properties partners for the site.
Brandon Champeau, vice president at United Properties, said the company has been interested in the site for months. A “48-acre site on the river, these are rare opportunities to develop,” he said.
More planning, with community input, could take up to two years. The site will be divided into public and private uses, and they will have to figure out what to do with a power line that runs through the site and historic port structures.
Kate Lamers, design project manager for the Park Board, said the plan also will address ways to pay for the development. United Properties has estimated that its proposal could cost $500 million — money that likely would come from a variety of private and public sources.
“This is an innovative way for the city and Park Board to work together,” said Commissioner Scott Vreeland. “I am pleased with the process so far. I know we’ve a long way to go.”
Area residents have said they are excited about the creation of a large new park that connects people to the river, but also have questions about how it will fit in an industrial area. Nancy Przymus, of the Bottineau neighborhood association, noted that the amphitheater, as currently proposed, would be near a plant that manufactures shingles. “It would make it impossible to have this new amphitheater on the river,” she said.
People who submitted comments during community meetings and responded to an online survey said they liked amphitheater, although some raised questions about noise. They also noted the development should consider racial equity and minimize gentrification.