Environmental Review

AUAR Study Area

Study Area

AUAR Process Overview

For information on the AUAR process visit the Environmental Quality Board webpage https://www.eqb.state.mn.us/content/auar-process

An Alternative Urban Areawide Review (AUAR) will be completed for the Upper Harbor Terminal Project. The AUAR is a form of environmental review that reviews a project's environmental setting, the potential environmental effects of the project, alternative scenarios, and a very specific mitigation plan.

The City can use an AUAR as a planning tool to understand how different development scenarios will affect the environment of their community before the development occurs. The process is designed to look at the cumulative impacts of anticipated development scenarios within a given geographic area, including noise, traffic and impact on cultural resources. Environmental analysis information from an AUAR can be used to inform local planning and zoning decisions.

The City Council will approve the scope of the proposed AUAR, which is anticipated to occur in Spring 2021. Once the AUAR analysis is complete and the proposed mitigation strategies are identified, the Minneapolis City Council will make a determination on the adequacy of study following a public comment period. For more information on this process visit the City's environmental review page.

An AUAR analyzes the following:

  • Land Use
  • Geology, Soils, and Topography/Land Forms
  • Water Resources
  • Contamination/Hazardous Materials/Wastes
  • Fish, Wildlife, Plant Communities, and Sensitive Ecological Resources (Rare Features)
  • Historic Properties
  • Visual
  • Air
  • Noise
  • Transportation
  • Cumulative Potential Effects

Development Scenarios

Three scenarios are evaluated in the AUAR as outlined in Table 1.

  • The No Build Scenario represents the existing conditions of the Upper Harbor Terminal site. Under this scenario, no redevelopment would occur.
  • Scenario 1 represents the density of the development proposed in the Upper Harbor Coordinated Development Plan (Final Draft, February 2021).
  • Scenario 2 represents the maximum density allowed under the Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan.

Scenario 1 and Scenario 2

Redevelopment of the site would include new infrastructure, including water service, sewer, stormwater, streets, sidewalks, trails, and other utilities, and most of the new services would be extensions to existing infrastructure or upgrading existing systems to support the new land uses. Both build scenarios would also include relocating the existing overhead electric transmission lines.

Scenario 1 and 2 would also improve access to the Upper Harbor Terminal site near Lowry Avenue North. In coordination with CP Rail, both scenarios include improvements to the two railroad crossings on 33rd Avenue North.

AUAR Development Scenarios

Component No Build Scenario Scenario 1 (Draft Coordinated Development Plan) Scenario 2 (Allowable under 2040 Comprehensive Plan)
Residential units 0 520 890
Commercial (square feet) 0 50,000 55,000
Non-commercial: office, industrial (square feet) 110,000 315,000 640,000
Industrial storage (acres) 37 0 0
Music venue (peak attendance) 0 10,000 10,000
Recreation (acres) 0 19.5 19.5


Spring 2021 – Scoping and Draft AUAR Order
Summer 2021 – Draft AUAR and Mitigation Plan
Fall 2021 – Final Adoption of AUAR and Mitigation Plan

Public Comment Period

Notice was published in the EQB Monitor on Tuesday, May 25, 2021. Written comments on the Draft AUAR (see Draft AUAR with Appendices PDF in Documents section below) must be submitted within the 30-day comment period, which ended at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2021.

The Business, Inspections, Housing and Zoning (BIHZ) Committee of the City Council at its regular meeting on Tuesday, August 24, 2021 received a report and recommendation from City staff on the Final AUAR and Mitigation Plan. The City Council will act on the recommendation of this Committee at its regular meeting on Friday, September 10, 2021, or at a subsequent meeting.

The City of Minneapolis hosted an online open house for the UHT AUAR on Thursday June 10th at 6:00pm. Meeting information was available on the City’s event calendar and the event calendar on this website. View a video recording of the open house below.

  • Upper Harbor Terminal AUAR Open House video

For further information visit the City's environmental review page.


Upper Harbor Terminal AUAR Order - February 2021

UHT Scoping Document - February 2021

UHT Final AUAR Order - April 2021

UHT Draft AUAR with Appendices - May 2021

CPAC Event Transportation Management Plan - June 17 2021

UHT Final-AUAR-and-Mitigation-Plan - July 2021