Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What and where is the “Upper Harbor Terminal”?
The Upper Harbor Terminal (or “UHT”) is a 48+-acre site owned by the City of Minneapolis. It’s located in North Minneapolis along the Mississippi River between 33rd and about 40th avenues and also extends at one point inland to I-94. It’s been operated for decades as a barge shipping terminal. With the closure of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock to barging last year, the site is now being used for storage on an interim basis until redevelopment starts.
What guidance do City and Park Board plans provide for the site?
There has been extensive community engagement and planning for the area along the Mississippi River upriver from Plymouth Avenue (the “Above the Falls” area), including the UHT site. Most recently, there was an extensive community engagement process to update the Above the Falls Master Plan and Above the Falls Regional Park Plan, including the RiverFirst park visioning process.
These plans agree that the terminal operation on the UHT site should end and the site redeveloped for a mixture of parkland along the River and private development inland. This park will be a “regional park,” rather than a “neighborhood park” and eventually will be connected up and down river into the city’s famous Grand Rounds system. Because it will be some time before these connections can be made, planners feel that the addition of a destination where Dowling Avenue meets the Mississippi River is a key first step to bring people to the site and start providing a riverfront amenity.
A previous study also found that the structures on the site are eligible for historic designation because of their connection with the history of the long-standing rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul over which town should be the head of navigation on the Mississippi River, which led to the construction of the two locks at St. Anthony Falls and the development of the UHT site as a shipping terminal.
What still remains to be decided?
The following are still open questions:
- How much of the site will be used for parkland, what features the park will have and how it will be designed.
- The type of destination(s) that would be feasible and work best.
- Whether there are any appropriate new uses for the existing structures.
- What types of private development will be built on the non-park portions of the site and how that development will be designed.
- What roads and other public improvements are needed to both serve the redevelopment on the site and provide good access from the adjacent community to the site. The existing plan calls for mixed use and business park redevelopment. Other possibilities may be considered, IF there is a feasible market for other uses and if they meet the basci criteria outlined in the plan.
- How the site redevelopment can benefit the community with as little negative impact (e.g., gentrification) as possible.
What process is being used to pursue redevelopment?
The City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board are working together on a “request for qualifications” (RFQ) process to find a qualified private developer for at least the first phase of redevelopment. The RFQ was issued in August 2016, and one developer submission (for the entire site) was received in October 2016. The City and Park Board are reviewing that submission, and the goal is to decide by early 2017 whether to select that development team. If so, the three parties will work together, with community input, to formulate a coordinated redevelopment plan, likely using some or all of the developer’s proposed initial development program as the starting point.
How soon might redevelopment occur?
This coordinated planning process and the search for funding to implement the plan may take a few years, with the hope that implementation could begin in 2019 or 2020. In the meantime, the City, Park Board and developer may pursue some interim ways to add positive activity to the site.
What happened to all the community input received during the RiverFirst and Above the Falls processes? When will the community have input mving forward, what type of input is needed and how will it be used? What is being done to include community voices who often have been left out of the process?
What is possible? What is not possible? What factors will impact the actual redevelopment?
There are a number of factors in addition to community input that will influence what can actually happen on the site. These include:
- The regulatory framework in which the City, Park Board and developer must work.
- For the park and public improvements on the site: how much funding is available (and the various requirements that come with that funding).
- For the private development: the real estate market, the financial feasibility of various types of development, the amount of debt and equity funding available and the requirements that come with that funding.
- For any special project improvements and/or programs (e.g., the suggested amphitheater or an incubator program): whether one or more nonprofits are willing and able to take on construction, operation and funding of those programs.