The Riverfront: A new view of North Minneapolis


The August 4th meeting of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MRDI) told area stakeholders about benefits and opportunities that will come from restoring the Riverfront, a long neglected community asset. 

The MRDI builds on Minnesota’s rich Mississippi River heritage of passion for parks, nature and wildlife.  The initiatives goal is to bring life to places along the Upper Riverfront where neighborhoods and businesses can grow. 

The meeting at Farview Park 601 29th Av. N. provided information about RiverFIRST, the competition-winning vision for new riverfront parks along the North and Northeast sides of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.  

The Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative contacted us after publication of this article to note: “The community is invited to share their opinions and experiences on a number of topics related to the project in our Community Input Survey (linked from our site:”

“The MRDI was actually phase two,” said Mary deLaittre, Project Manager for the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership.  “Phase one was the Minneapolis Riverfront international design competition, last September.  We had 55 submissions from 14 different countries, reflecting 400 different firms,” she said 

Three primary goals of the Riverfront initiative are: re-establish parks as an engine for economic development along the river; reorient the city toward the river; and make connections from the neighborhoods to the river.  “The disconnect, between neighborhoods and the river, is huge,” deLaittre said. 

The initiative proposes eight areas of opportunity along the Riverfront including beaches; wetlands, overlooks, scenic views, regional and neighborhood connections, bridges, island habitats, and commemorative art. 

The initiative will provide a Gateway Park to connect the Minneapolis Central Library to the river.  It will also propose a Farview Park expansion. “Farview Park is an extraordinary location because of views and closeness to highway 94,” deLaittre said.  “Farview Park becomes a center rather than an edge condition, to make the connection to the river system and parks and trails system.”

26th Ave is another North Minneapolis location receiving attention.  “There is a lot of attention being paid to 26th Ave by neighborhoods, the City of Minneapolis, and the Park and Recreation Board, as a critical connection from Theodore Wirth to the Mississippi River,” deLaittre said.

The wetland reclamation, owned by the city of Minneapolis, consists of the Upper Harbor terminal, located between Lowry and 38th Ave. in the McKinley neighborhood.  The harbor will assist with a civic-scaled climate and change eco-infrastructure by providing bio-filtration for storm water flow.  This will increase flood protection and provide new riverfront habitats.  “The lower half of that area historically was a wetland; the design team is proposing turning it back into a wetland,” deLaittre said.

Bicycle and walking trails are essential infrastructures in the initiative. “This infrastructure is of critical importance to bridge the gap along the river and make the connection to the regional parks and trails,” deLaittre said.

The initiative will compliment other projects underway in North Minneapolis, such as the new Minneapolis Public Schools district building on Broadway, the Lowry corridor, Dowling, 42nd and 49th Ave. Corridors.  “RiverFIRST does not exist in isolation, but can support many of these proposals to make critical connections in North Minneapolis,” deLaittre said. 

For more information on MRDI visit