Minneapolis sued over Upper Harbor Terminal project

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.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2019

A group of Minneapolis residents filed a lawsuit over the city’s plans to develop the Upper Harbor Terminal on the Mississippi River, north of downtown.

The lawsuit alleges that the city failed to properly study the plan’s environmental impact and calls for the project to be halted.

“We didn’t want to take this step,” said Community Members for Environmental Justice organizer Roxxanne O’Brien, who lives in north Minneapolis. “We told them they didn’t adequately study the environmental impact of this proposal on our community, but they pushed it through anyway.”

North Minneapolis is a “Green Zone,” a status given by the city as a reflection of their commitment to improve environmental conditions there.

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“Robust environmental analysis is particularly critical given North Minneapolis’ designation as one of the City’s Green Zones due to the disproportionate amount of toxic development that has been concentrated in the area over the years,” said CMEJ in a press release Thursday.

The city gave exclusive rights to United Properties, First Avenue and Thor Construction to develop the 48-acre riverfront property in 2017. Minneapolis, along with these organizations and an advisory committee of north Minneapolis residents, began the planning process in 2019. The plan includes housing, a 20-acre park, and an outdoor music venue managed by First Avenue.

When the first phase of the plan was announced in 2019, it was met with mixed feelings by the public. Some criticized the city’s decision to sell the land to private companies. Some north Minneapolis residents also felt left out of the decision overall.

The Minneapolis City Council approved the plan early this month, signaling the start of the construction and development phase.

The Minneapolis City Attorney’s office has yet to comment on the lawsuit.