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Riverside development enters community advisory phase

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A concept drawing of the Upper Harbor Terminal proposed arts center.
A concept drawing of the Upper Harbor Terminal proposed community performing arts center. See the full concept plan here.
Courtesy of City of Minneapolis

Planning for the Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment along the Mississippi River in north Minneapolis ramps up this week. On Wednesday, members of a 17-person community engagement committee will begin a series of regular meetings.

The preliminary plan for the 48-acre parcel of land approved by the City Council earlier this year includes affordable housing, a public park and an outdoor music site.

The Upper Harbor Terminal Collaborative Planning committee is made up of people from the area and from communities of color whose perspectives have historically been left out of conversations on development plans, said Erik Hansen, director of Economic Policy and Development for the city of Minneapolis.

"Racial equity should be baked into everything we do in this project," said Hansen. And he said the intention is to keep race in mind when considering crucial decisions like, "who's helping make the decision, is important ... and 'who benefits from the investment?'"

The project originally included Thor Construction, a locally based black-owned company. However, due to a bankruptcy, said Hansen, Thor is out of the picture for the forseeable future.  Neither of the other major players in the project, United Properties or First Avenue, are minority owned.

The Upper Harbor Terminal development is a once-in-a-generation project which presents major challenges, said Hansen. And he said the city is committed to doing it right.

The project "is supported 100 percent by the City Council and the mayor," said Hansen. "And they like to talk about it because we don't want to mess this thing up."

The committee meetings are open to the public. Wednesday's meeting will be held at the North Point Health and Wellness Center at 5 pm. The city council is expected to receive a more detailed development plan next spring.