Minneapolis community gives input on proposed riverfront development of the Upper Harbor Terminal

February 05, 2019 02:01 PM

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, a Minneapolis City Council committee will vote on what a "concept plan" for the Upper Harbor Terminal will look like going forward.

The proposal is to redevelop a mile-long stretch of riverfront near Highway 94 and Dowling Avenue, what used to be known as the Port of Minneapolis. The project has been in the works since 2016. City leaders assembled a team of developers and community stakeholders to create a vision for the 48-acre site.

"We were asked to create a balanced plan and we feel like that's what we brought forward with jobs, housing and park space. We need to take the concept to the next level to advance the site, there is still 50 percent of left open to interpretation," said Brandon Champeau with United Properties.

RELATED: Community voices frustration as Minneapolis riverfront development project moves forward

As it stands now, the concept remains to transform the neglected industrial zone into a community hub, filled with retail shops, a park, live music venue, hotel, office and residential space-- 20 percent of which would be affordable housing.

"The concept plan is a high-level plan, a lot of this is still flexible, all voices are always necessary," announced Phillipe Cunningham, a City Council Member for Ward 4.

The city of Minneapolis owns the land and gets to decide what redevelopment happens. Some Northside residents felt left out of the conversation and economic opportunities. They insisted on having more input and Sunday at a town hall gathering, critics seized the moment along with the microphone.

"Let's put some meat on what equity looks like," said Michael Chaney, a longtime community activist.

Whitney Clark believes the process is moving too fast.

"There are many things about the concept plan that I like and there are things I still have concerns about. We've been told it's a concept plan, but there's a lot left to be decided," Clark said.

The project would be both publicly and privately owned. Critics argued the city essentially outsourced planning to a team of businesses.

"I don't want to see all the money going to just the developers, there has to be ownership opportunities for citizens," said Don Hunker of Minneapolis.

Erin Niehoff of Minneapolis wondered, "what are you willing to change before approval this week? How willing are you to have co-creation? Co-partnership between developers and citizens?"

RELATED: Design students reveal plans for Minneapolis riverfront development

"As it stands, I'm at peace with the plan, but I will continue to engage in dialogue," he said. 

There are three phases of development; the first one would cost roughly $125 million. 

Dayna Frank is the owner and CEO of First Avenue and has advised on how to develop a concert venue.

"We are in favor of community benefits...space is being designed to benefit economically and socially current residents in North Minneapolis,"  Frank said. 

Frank added that jobs will be offered first to youth and adults who live in the area. 

Ahead of Tuesday's vote, a rally has been scheduled at 12:45 p.m. at Minneapolis City Hall. 

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Beth McDonough

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