Wayzata's lakefront plans will move forward this fall after city leaders pick one of three design firms they're meeting with this month.

When the city put out a request for proposals earlier this summer, a committee narrowed a pool of 13 companies from across the country to three finalists — Civitas, Coen + Partners and Perkins + Will — who will visit Wayzata next week.

Then, a winning firm will be approved by the City Council on Sept. 15, tasked with creating design plans for the city's lakefront improvement project, which it says will be a "unifying destination project" encompassing the entire area between an old railroad building called the Section Foreman's House to Shaver Park, and between Lake Street and the lake.

"It will really put the stamp on our entire waterfront," Mayor Ken Willcox said. "It will be part of our new brand for our city."

It's a big step in the city's 10-year concept plan, dubbed the Lake Effect (wayzatalakeeffect.com). The small city's downtown is cut off from its lakefront on the Twin Cities' busiest lake by BNSF railroad tracks, so it's working to make the area more accessible and safer for boaters, bikers and other visitors, hoping to boost revenue and tourism.

Over the last year and a half, temporary docks were installed to give boaters more spots to stop, volunteers planted 1,000 native plants, flowers and grasses next to the Section Foreman's House, and, this summer, construction started on a food concession stand run by McCormick's Pub at a beach house, which will open temporarily to the community for a preview next Wednesday and then for regular business next spring. It was inspired, City Manager Heidi Nelson said, by Minneapolis lake vendors like Sandcastle at Lake Nokomis.

The city has also started a study of parking in its downtown, which includes building the city's first public parking ramp, tentatively planned for October 2016. For drivers entering east Wayzata from Bushaway Road, there are plans to create more of a "gateway" to the city with new landscaping and public art. City leaders will also be back at the State Capitol next year after a failed bid for safer railroad crossings, a lake pier and a lake walk.