The following article by Eric Best, dated March 7 , 2016 was published in the Southwest Journal.
Park Board Considers Engagement Plan for Upper Harbor Terminal Site
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is laying the groundwork for the first steps in redeveloping the nearly 50 acres of city-owned land in North Minneapolis.
Park commissioners considered a resolution March 2 authorizing the formation of an appointed community group to help guide the redevelopment of the upper riverfront land known as the Upper Harbor Terminal site. Though they sent it back to staff for additional work, the resolution is one of the board’s first steps in what is expected to be a multi-year planning effort to overhaul the former industrial land for a “first-class” regional park, among other uses.
The Park Board has eyed the city-owned land with a goal of adopting the riverfront real estate under its Above the Falls Regional Park plans, which guide redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal site for a mixture of park, business park and mixed uses. The site operated as a commercial barging terminal from the 1960s until the end of 2014.
The agreement between the city and board outlines a goal for the redevelopment to bring jobs for North Minneapolis residents. City planning staff estimate the site has the potential to attract $100 million in private development, bringing in thousands of jobs if the site sees a business park and other mixed-use development.
The Park Board and City of Minneapolis will focus on developing the northern half of the site in an initial phase. Park officials said they’re planning to open a request for qualifications this spring or summer to potential developers with a response due sometime in the fall.
The chosen team will then have exclusive rights to work on the overhaul. Both the city and board will have to approve a concept design and implementation plan.
Before the end of 2017, the city plans to work with the developer in seeking tenants and other local partners. Park staff expect plans for an initial redevelopment phase to come before the board sometime in 2018 or 2019.
The Park Board and the city are currently finalizing the makeup of a community advisory committee, which is likely to include appointees from park commissioners, council members, Mayor Betsy Hodges’ office and neighborhood groups, among others.