Category Archives: Central Mississippi Riverfront

First Avenue Amphitheater Pitched to Anchor Minneapolis Riverfront Development

The following article by Nick Halter, dated October 18, 2016, was published in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

First Avenue Amphitheater Pitched to Anchor Minneapolis Riverfront Development 
Nightclub owner First Avenue Productions is joining forces with two Twin Cities developers on a plan to re-imagine the Upper Harbor Terminal, a North Minneapolis riverfront property.

Bloomington-based United Properties and Minneapolis firm Thor Construction joined First Avenue on the proposal. They make up the only team to respond to a request for qualifications to be the master developer for the northern half of the 48-acre site, the city and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board announced on Monday.

The plans show an amphitheater that would hold music and performing arts festivals, according to a source who saw the plans but was not authorized to discuss them. Broader, long-range plans show light manufacturing, housing and retail on the entire site.


To continue reading click on the link to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Park Commissioners Take Step to Demolish Fuji-Ya Building

The following article by Eric Best was published in the Southwest Journal on November 25, 2015.

Park Commissioners Take Step to Demolish Fuji-Ya Building

Rendering courtesy of Minneapolis Parks Foundation

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has worked for years on Water Works, its overhaul
of the Mississippi riverfront.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board commissioners took another step in a longstanding effort to demolish the Fuji-Ya building in order to build a new riverfront park.

The board’s Administration & Finance Committee approved Nov. 18 an agreement with
Minneapolis-based MacDonald & Mack Architects to provide services to demolish the building, having long been considered a blight on the Mississippi riverfront. The Fuji-Ya building, which has sat vacant for nearly 25 years, could be demolished as early as 2017 or even sooner as part of the board’s overhaul of the Central Riverfront Regional Park, dubbed Water Works.

The two-story building at 401 1st St. S. opened in 1968 as an iconic Japanese restaurant, but, following the death of founder Reiko Weston, the Park Board bought it in 1990. The building was built on top of the Bassett Saw Mil, a contributing resource to the St. Anthony Falls Historic District.

The board will selectively demolish the building to move forward with Water Works, a landmark project under its RiverFirst initiative to transform the riverfront near downtown Minneapolis into a destination park.

Commissioners adopted a concept for the park in September and are currently working on fundraising agreements to pay for the approximately $27 million project.

Tom Evers, executive director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, a nonprofit that handles philanthropic efforts for the board, told The Journal at the time that the organization is looking to raise about half the total cost. The nonprofit has already raised $3.5 million from philanthropic sources, which the board will discuss in its Dec. 2 meeting. The full board will also take up the nearly $50,000 services agreement during that meeting.

The first construction phase is expected to begin in 2017 around the time the board demolishes the Fuji-Ya building. The board anticipates Water Works to be completed in 2023.

“We’ve been waiting around a long time for this one,” said Commissioner Anita Tabb, whose district includes the future Water Works site. “Let the games begin.”

Read the Journal article…

Public Hearing on Central Mississippi Riverfront Proposed Master Plan

Public Hearing on Central Mississippi Riverfront Proposed Master Plan

There will be a Public Hearing on March 4, 2015 at 6:30 pm at MPRB Headquarters for the Central Mississpppi Rverfront Proposed Master Plan.

Public Hearing on Central Mississippi Riverfront Proposed Master Plan

For additional information, click on this link.

Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan

MINNEAPOLIS AFTER THE LOCK — January 22, 2015 Meeting

MINNEAPOLIS AFTER THE LOCK — January 22, 2015 Meeting

The following videos provided here are courtesy of the Mill City Times:


More than 200 people packed the Mill City Museum to learn about the future of the Minneapolis Riverfront after the closing of the Upper Lock at St. Anthony Falls, which will be no later than June 10 of this year.  The Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership convened an expert panel to explore the possibilities.  We’ve broken the event video into separate clips, followed by the entire event with a running time 1:29:02.  A few highlights:


Whitney delivers an impassioned plea to faithfully implement the Above the Falls Master Plan, protecting it from being eroded by private interests to the detriment of the common good.


John explains how the St. Anthony Falls Locks failed to live up to hopes for economic viability, and the invasive carp threat were just the final trigger for closure.


Tom recaps key moments in recent history of the Central Riverfront, culminating in the lock closure.


Nan details the logistics of the lock closure, shares possibilities for the future, and gives an update on hydro projects at St. Anthony Falls.

Here’s the link to all of the videos:



January 22 at the Mill City Museum / 6:00PM – 7:30PM

Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership

The lock is scheduled to be closed in June 2015.  Its closure will change river management practices and have an environmental and an economic impact far beyond the Falls and the local area.  The Forum is designed to help us better understand both the immediate and longer-term consequences of the closure and to hear ideas about how the site and the river can be used in new and different ways.

(Video) St. Anthony Falls Regional Park Master Plan Overview

The following item is posted here courtesy of David Tinjum and MillCityTimes.


Watch video of the area being planned for and hear from Committee Chair Ted Tucker and some of the committee members.  Another community service video produced and directed by Peter Zenner:

December 4, 2014, Thursday – Pillsbury A Mill Hydroelectric Project Public Scoping Meetings

The following item was published in the Mill City Times.  The original article can be read at .

December 4, 2014, Thursday – Pillsbury A Mill Hydroelectric Project Public Scoping Meetings

Times:  Noon and 5:00 pm

Location: Terrence Murphy Hall, Room 202, 1000 LaSalle Avenue

Minneapolis Leased Housing Associates IV (developer of the A Mill Artists Lofts project) will hold two scoping meetings for the A-Mill Artist Lofts Hydroelectric Project to receive input on the scope of the Applicant Prepared Environmental Assessment that the developer will be preparing.

A copy of the scoping document may be found here:

More info on the meeting:

There also will be an Environmental Site Review Meeting on Thursday, December 4, 2:00pm, at Xcel Energy Water Power Park, 206 Main Street SE.  This gathering will include tours of the intake and outlet areas.

Alternative Uses Considered for Controversial Riverfront Land

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the October 17, 2014 edition of the Downtown Journal.

Alternative Uses Considered for Controversial Riverfront Land


An aerial view of the Park Board’s new $4 million operations center proposed for 1720 Marshall St. NE
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Park Board looking at different options after $4 million storage facility rejected by neighborhood

Nobody in Northeast liked the Park Board’s plan to build a $4 million storage and maintenance facility on recently acquired riverfront property, so now staff is putting together alternative options for commissioners to consider.

Several Park Board staff members and Park Board President Liz Wielinski met with concerned neighbors Oct. 14 to discuss how to best use the 1.74-acre chunk of riverfront real estate. The original plan, which included a small riverfront park, was slated for preliminary approval at the Aug. 20 board meeting but that was tabled after more than 30 people showed up to testify against it.
Continue reading

Symphony Hydro Project – Update

The following e-mail, with attachment regarding Symphony Hydro LLC, is from Doug Verdier who lives in the Mill City District.

Symphony Hydro Project – Update

Attached FYI and action is the Oct. 22, 2014 “Notice of Preliminary Permit Application Accepted for Filing and Soliciting Comments, Motions to Intervene, and Competing Applications” that has been issued by FERC to Symphony Hydro LLC.

You will note in paragraph 2 of the Notice the scope of the proposed project. What it does NOT state is that the concrete bulkheads and turbine generators will be constructed INSIDE the current St. Anthony Falls Lock. This information was included in Symphony Hydro’s original June 25, 2014 application to FERC for the permit that has now been issued. The plan to construct a hydro plant inside the lock is predicated on the future closing of the lock for navigation, required not later than June 10, 2015. The closing was mandated by Public Law 113-121, dated June 10, 2014, and was intended mainly to prevent migration of invasive carp up the Mississippi RIver.

The law provides: “Emergency Operations — Nothing in this section prevents the Secretary from carrying out emergency lock operations necessary to mitigate flood damage.” We’ve seen that use for a couple of weeks this past summer when lock doors at both ends were open.

Construction of concrete bulkheads and turbine generators inside the lock would certainly have some impact on the ability of the Corps of Engineers to regulate flow for flood control. But more importantly, such construction would be a significant obstacle to any future navigation through the locks if it were necessary for an emergency or even for certain maintenance operations up river. The current repair project on the base of the 3rd Avenue bridge requires the use of several barges loaded with equipment, including a large crane, for example. These barges all came through the lock to get to their current position at the bridge. Construction of any kind inside the lock would impede such passage.

Bottom line: The notion of constructing a hydro plant inside the lock, regardless of whether it is to be closed for navigation, is a bad idea. It is inconceivable that the lock would never again be needed for navigation. It is critical that the lock remain functional, controlled by the Corps of Engineers, and unencumbered by any sort of construction so that it is available immediately when needed in the future.

I invite all of you to address your concerns about this project with FERC. Deadline for comments is Dec. 22, 2014. Instructions for filing your comments are contained at the bottom of page 1 and top of page 2 of the Notice.

Anyone wishing to receive a copy of the original June 25 filing by Symphony Hydro may email me, please use “Symphony Hydro” in the subject line.

Doug Verdier

Another Hydropower Proposal Emerges

The following article by Ben Johnson was published in the September 30, 2014 issue of The Journal and updated on October 15.

Another Hydropower Proposal Emerges

Three pending hydropower proposals along central riverfront test balance between renewable energy and maintaining flow over St. Anthony Falls
Photo by Ben Johnson

St. Anthony Falls at about 11,000 cubic feet per second (cfs)

Another hydropower proposal has joined the crowded field of existing and proposed
hydropower facilities vying to divert water away from St. Anthony Falls to create renewable energy.

The controversial proposals highlight the increasingly complicated battle between numerous stakeholders over water use along the central riverfront.

The newest plan is called Symphony Hydro, led by former Northern States Power (NSP) executive Bob Schulte and several anonymous partners. Its plan, submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 26, would place a hydropower plant entirely within the soon-to-be-shuttered Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock and Dam.