The Minneapolis City Council postponed a vote on the proposed north Minneapolis riverfront redevelopment because one of its lead developers, Thor Cos., has run into financial trouble.
Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, citing the “unfolding situation between Thor and its creditors,” moved on Tuesday to postpone a city staff presentation about the Upper Harbor Terminal plan until the Economic Development & Regulatory Services Committee’s next meeting on Feb. 5.
The full City Council was previously scheduled to vote on the plan on Feb. 1.
The redevelopment of the Mississippi riverfront site is intended to revitalize a former industrial area. The concept plan includes new apartments, a public park, retail spaces, a hotel and an outdoor music venue. The cost estimate for the first phase of the project for private development is $200 million, according to Ann Calvert, the city’s principal project coordinator and one of the lead staff members on the Upper Harbor Terminal concept plan.
Thor, a major player in the Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment and the state’s largest minority-owned company, was sued last week by Sunrise Banks, which says the company owes it more than $3 million, according to a lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court.
“They are one of our main three development partners, and so we are wanting to have some time to explore what is going on and what impact that may have,” Calvert said.
The city staff will gather facts about the Thor situation and come back to the same committee in two weeks with recommendations on how to proceed.
“We, as a community, have really invested a lot of confidence and trust in the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal because of the fact that Thor was at the table,” Cunningham said Wednesday.
“We had a black-led developer [based on the North Side] at the table, really helping to make decisions. … As we move forward, it’s very important to me, as a council member for that area, to re-establish the communities’ trust and confidence in the integrity of this redevelopment process.”
To make sure that happens, the Economic Development and Regulatory Services Committee passed a resolution Tuesday that established an advisory group for the riverfront redevelopment.
Several entities and organizations are involved in the redevelopment of the riverfront site, including the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, United Properties, Thor Companies and First Avenue Productions.
Mayor Jacob Frey said he supports postponing the vote.
“This is the number one priority in terms of capital projects that we have right now in our city,” Frey said at the meeting. “It’s a mile stretch along the Mississippi River. It’s 48 acres. You don’t get opportunities to redevelop sites that are previously heavy industrial and polluting to both community space and parkland like this very often. We want to do it right.”