Working to protect the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities area

Decision time for the Minneapolis riverfront

A restored wetland park proposed for the southern end of the Minneapolis-owned Upper Harbor Terminal would be a haven for paddlers as well as birds and wildlife.

Graphic by TLS/KVA

This fall elected officials will weigh in on two major efforts to revitalize the Minneapolis riverfront north of downtown: the Above the Falls plan and the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Initiative. The Above the Falls Policy Review and Implementation Study focuses on updating land use and guiding development in the upper riverfront while the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Initiative (MRDI) focuses primarily on the its riverfront parks, trails and open space.

Over the past six months, hundreds of citizens and other stakeholders have participated in meetings and forums to learn about and weigh in on both initiatives. During the next three months citizen involvement will be even more critical as decision-makers determine priorities and next steps.

Since selecting the winning proposal — "RiverFIRST" — from last winter's design competition, the Minneapolis Riverfront Design Initiative has spent the summer gathering information and feedback from river users and community groups, refining project designs, and completing economic and feasibility analyses of the proposed north and northeast Minneapolis park projects. The MRDI design team will summarize their refined design concepts and phasing recommendations in a report and present it to the public and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) this month. According to the MRDI website the draft report is scheduled for release September 20th and will "detail recommendations for priority sites and projects, timing, and funding; and suggest steps and structure for maintaining project momentum." MPRB Commissioners will likely approve a 45-day public comment period for the report, after which planning staff will make a recommendation to the commissioners regarding priority projects for implementation.

Meanwhile, City of Minneapolis planners are wrapping up the analysis phase of the Above the Falls Policy Review and Implementation Study and plan to recommend next steps to the city council this winter. Planners were examining the economic feasibility of re-zoning the area north of St. Anthony Falls to residential, commercial and industrial land uses. The staff report to the city council is likely to include a recommendation to amend the Above the Falls Plan, which will require additional public process, before re-zoning the area.

Help decide the riverfront's future

Below is a schedule of upcoming meetings about the two planning efforts. All take place at MPRB headquarters, 2117 West River Road North in Minneapolis.

  • Tuesday, September 20, 6-8 p.m.
MRDI Presentation of the RiverFIRST Report to the Advisory and Technical Committees and the general public
  • Wednesday, September 21, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
MRDI Presentation of the RiverFIRST Report to the MRDI Steering Committee
  • Wednesday, September 21, 5:30 p.m.
MRDI Presentation of the RiverFIRST Report and recommendation for a 45-day public comment period (Part of regular Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board Commissioners meeting)
  • Tuesday, September 27, 5-7 p.m. 
"Upper River Forum"
City of Minneapolis planning staff present the Above the Falls Policy Review and Implementation Study. Forum sponsored by the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership and the Above the Falls Citizen Advisory Committee.

For more information