A Minneapolis City Council committee once again postponed a vote on a massive riverfront redevelopment in north Minneapolis Tuesday, in what was seen as a victory for activists seeking greater involvement in the project.
Concept plans for the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal — 48 acres in a former industrial site along the Mississippi River — include a hotel, a performing arts center, apartments, retail and a public park. The first phase of private development is estimated to cost $200 million.
The Economic Development & Regulatory Services Committee pushed back the vote until Feb. 19. Council Member Lisa Goodman, the committee chair, said they needed more time to consider what was said during a community forum about the project held Sunday.
“I think it would be disingenuous to move forward until we were able to absorb some of that feedback and incorporate it, as possible, into the plan,” she said.
Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, who represents North Side neighborhoods, said he plans to introduce a series of amendments to the concept plan. Last week, the council approved the creation of an advisory committee for the project that would include residents of surrounding neighborhoods.
The council was originally supposed to vote on the plans Feb. 1. It rescheduled that vote after it was reported that Thor Cos., one of the developers in the project, was facing serious financial trouble, including a bank lawsuit.
Thor remains an active partner, Cunningham said. “It was necessary to be able to gather the information to make the most informed decision,” he said of delaying the vote.
Dozens had gathered outside the council chambers on Tuesday to share their opposition to the project. They are pushing for a “co-creation” process that would give North Side residents and groups a greater say over what is done with the site.
“The only urgency for Upper Harbor Terminal is getting it right for the people who need and deserve reparations,” said Kelley Skumautz, owner of the Serendripity Spot coffee shop blocks away from the riverfront site.
Emmanuel Ortiz, an organizer for the Parks and Power campaign, said he worried the wrong redevelopment would lead to gentrification. “There is a huge concern that a project like this will attract a land grab in neighboring areas,” he said.
Cunningham said the concept plan won’t be completely redrawn, and that the advisory committee will help out with future amendments and specific parts of the project.
“Essentially it’s a co-creation process,” he said. “Not from the very beginning. We’re not starting completely over.”
Once the council postponed the vote, opponents reconvened outside to express their relief.
“This is a victory for the people right here,” Ortiz said to applause. “Y’all won this. It’s not over yet.”
Before leaving the hall, they chanted: “If we don’t lead it, we don’t need it!”