Folks meet on the Upper Harbor Project Update

Written by Marky Wagner

A public meeting for the Upper Harbor Development Project was held on May 2 at the University of Minnesota Urban Research Engagement Center. The meeting’s agenda was to review the project’s history, update the community on the progress of the project, update on the development, review the Health Hub Proposal, and then conduct break-out discussions on the changes to the plan. 

A timeline of the History of Engagement was presented, which included numerous community engagement meetings starting in 2017 and continued through 2020, the creation of the Upper Harbor Terminal Collaborative Planning Committee in March 2019, and the development of the plan. The current Upper Harbor Community Focused Plan encompasses the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor to “create a large-scale, community building asset in North Minneapolis, grounded in a restorative approach towards racial justice that meets the needs, aspirations and priorities of the nearby residents.”

The guiding components of the vision are connecting North Minneapolis with the Mississippi River, retain public ownership of the land, establish affordable housing, create opportunities for local businesses and living wage jobs.

Included in the plan is the creation of 20 acres of new riverfront park space and trails, a community performing arts center, and a Community Health & Wellness Center. In addition the plan includes environmental remediation, restoration of the shoreline and storm water management.

City staff then presented a Project Update. The City Council approved the Upper Harbor Coordination Plan in September 2021. The Minneapolis Park and Rec Board (MPRB) approved the Upper Harbor Regional Park Plan in November 2021. In April 2021 Public Works started Phase I infrastructure which includes demolition and site work, reconstruction of Dowling Ave, construction of the north-south parkway, and installation of public utilities. Some of this work will be completed in the spring and summer of 2024. Xcel Energy started the relocation of the overhead transmission lines in November 2023 and completed the work this spring. The City transferred the land to the MPRB in November of 2023, and construction of the park and trails started this spring.

Presentations were then made on the on-going development projects including the housing proposals and performing arts center.

The housing development proposals still include the high rise building at the intersection of Washington and Dowling, mixed-income housing along the river, and senior housing along the river to the north. There was a lot of discussion regarding the cost and availability of the affordable housing section of the project. There were no concrete dates for starting construction of the housing portion of the development. It was noted that the Minneapolis Housing and Financing Agency (MHFA) had rejected a proposal for gap funding on the project, but the project staff would be reapplying again in 2025.

First Avenue has completed construction documents of the performing arts center, and plans to start construction this year with first events taking place next year. Community residents expressed concerns for parking plans for the events that are scheduled for the performing arts center and how it will impact the neighborhoods adjacent to the project. Concerns were also expressed about the noise and laser shows and their impact on the heron rookery that is near the project.

The project staff is still soliciting and reviewing proposals for the Parcel 5 light manufacturing portion of the redevelopment.

The health and wellness site project aspect has received a proposal from InterCityTennis Minneapolis (ICT). They gave a presentation on their current activities in Minneapolis schools and parks, and are proposing an all-season facility that would accommodate many kinds of sports besides tennis and could be used for indoor tournaments and events. Their proposal would require the movement of the wellness center from its original location at the south end of the project, to where the light manufacturing is located on the proposal as the redevelopment plan was originally envisioned.

After the presentation breakout discussions groups reviewed proposals, and then had additional questions and ideas.

For more general info visit the project website at or just search for Minneapolis Upper Harbor Redevelopment Project.