Mpls. officials clarify position on city ownership of Upper Harbor Terminal land

The Minneapolis skyline is seen beyond an industrial site.
The Minneapolis skyline is seen beyond the southern half of the Upper Harbor Terminal industrial site in north Minneapolis on April 16, 2019.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2019

Minneapolis city officials say they’re pushing for public ownership of the Upper Harbor Terminal land, but that nothing is assured.

On Monday, MPR News reported the city intends to retain ownership of the Upper Harbor Terminal — a 48-acre defunct barge terminal — when the site is redeveloped into a mixed-use destination including housing, businesses and an outdoor music venue.

“I should have been more clear that it’s still subject to City Council approval,” said 4th Ward City Council member Phillipe Cunningham, whose area includes the Upper Harbor Terminal, on Wednesday evening.

Cunningham said public ownership of 43 of the 48 acres is currently the recommendation that will be in the redevelopment plan that will go before City Council. The final 5 acres will likely be the outdoor music venue that will be owned by First Avenue Productions.

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Cunningham said he has been working with Erik Hansen, the city’s director of economic policy and development, to judge the feasibility of public ownership of the site. United Properties is still willing to develop the site if the city retains ownership of the land and the city has an understanding of how to structure that kind of development deal, Hansen said.

Hansen said he and Cunningham have briefed City Council members and they have not heard any objections to the public ownership plan.

“This is a really big deal because the project that was already in motion was meant for the land to be privatized,” Cunningham said. Public ownership has been a key demand of many community members across the north side.

The draft Upper Harbor Terminal redevelopment plan will be submitted to the City Council this spring. There will be time for public comments before the City Council’s expected final vote in June.