Minneapolis: Above the Falls planning progresses


The Minneapolis City Council June 14 passed the revised Above the Falls (ATF) plan for land use along the Mississippi River starting at Plymouth/8th Avenue NE.

After a series of delays, the City Planning Commission and then the Council’s Zoning and Planning Committee approved the new plan after amending the language in the implementation chapter allowing industrial uses to remain, expand, and be modified until acquired for parks.

Other language added design issues to the scope of the rezoning study that will be done after the plan is adopted: “The rezoning study should also include a review of the basic zoning tools impacting the riverfront district, including site plan review standards, Mississippi River Critical Area and Shoreland overlay standards, and the standards of those Zoning Districts found within the study area. If appropriate, the rezoning study might propose refinements to these zoning standards to bring them more in line with the goals of the Above the Falls Master Plan.”

During earlier public meetings about the plan revision, two of the concerns raised were about GAF Company (next to and under the over-land portion of the Lowry Avenue Bridge’s west end), saying park and river access plans would negatively affect the business’ future; and by Northern Metals, claiming businesses had not been adequately involved in the process.

On the flip side, others asked for more information about polluting industries and asked that they be moved out of the area more quickly. The staff report pointed out that more than 50 business interviews were conducted. Regarding pollution, while 160 companies on 300 sites in the area with potential to pollute are considered “active,” most have been operating within legal guidelines, the report says.

While waiting for businesses to move from Sub-areas 5 and 6, since connectivity to the river is the goal, the parties involved should work on “short-term mitigation efforts, including greening and buffering of sites, to reduce negative impacts on the surrounding area,” the staff report states.Subarea 5 is between 26th and 31st, from the river to the railroad, and Subarea 6 is the railroad to Washington between 21st and 31st.

The full Above the Falls (ATF) Master Plan Update can be found on line at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/www/groups/public/@cped/documents/webcontent/wcms1p-101581.pdf.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has started its 45-day comment period on the plan; more info at www.minneapolis parks.org/abovethefalls.

There are some interesting statistics in the staff report regarding the 6,097 jobs in the Above the Falls study area (2010, the most recent year available for the level of analysis).

Around 190 jobs (3.1 percent) were held by residents of the two major North Minneapolis ZIP codes, 55411 and 55412. Around 254 jobs (4.2 percent) were held by residents of the three major Northeast Minneapolis ZIP codes 55418, 55413, and 55414.

A total of around 786 jobs (12.6 percent) were held by Minneapolis residents in general. The distribution of workers is very broad, with the largest concentrations in the northernmost end of the city and up the Highway 10 corridor in the northern suburbs.

About 25.2 percent of all jobs in the City of Minneapolis are held by city residents.