Community voices frustration as Minneapolis riverfront development project moves forward

December 11, 2018 10:50 PM

As plans forward to redevelop a mile-long stretch of river-front property in North Minneapolis, the community pushes for more input.

“One of the things that's been missing and the stumbling block here is engaging the community,” said La Shella Sims.

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Sims has lived in North Minneapolis for nearly 50 years.

She’s excited about the prospect of the development of the Upper Harbor Terminal.


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The 48-acre site draft concept plan includes a community performing arts center, which would be operated by First Avenue. It also includes a park, hotel, office space, housing, river walk, and an innovation hub for entrepreneurship and youth engagement.

“I think it’s a plus, the development itself,” she said. “Now is the time, now is North Minneapolis' time.”

She joined a packed room of people at the Minneapolis Park Board for a project update on Tuesday night. The community also had the opportunity to ask questions.

It’s the second public meeting this week where frustrations surfaced.

“This is just a concept plan so it's still going to be very general with a lot of room for community input as we move forward,” said Ann Calvert, the principal project coordinator for the city of Minneapolis. “A lot of the engagement we're having now might inform that next phase of work.”

She told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the City Council is expected to vote on whether to move forward with the plan on Feb. 1. The Park Board also has to make a decision on the proposal.

If it’s approved, project leaders start work on the more detailed coordinated plan. Calvert said they initially hoped to have that developed by October.

“The community has expressed very strongly they would like even more engagement and to do so we may need to slow down the process,” said Calvert.

She said they have made changes to the plan since it was unveiled in August, including adding park space and more affordable housing.

“I’m hoping it will be a development that will benefit the community but also be a place people from outside of the community will want to come and appreciate North Minneapolis, which is a community that has a lot of strengths,” said Calvert.

She is also considering creating a community advisory committee.

Mississippi Mushrooms Founder Ian Silver-Ramp hopes to be part of the redevelopment.

“If the amphitheater happens, it's going to inherently bring more traffic to the site for these big events so that would be a great way to have local entrepreneurs have a market,” he said. “It’s just important they're aware of all of the assets on site and make the best use of what’s already here.”

He currently leases warehouse space at the site from the city. He said he’s been encouraged by the involvement of urban gardening non-profit Project Sweetie Pie.

“I’m nervous but I’m optimistic,” he said. “I’m optimistic about the potential of the site.”

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