Uht From Lowry Bridge

Upper Harbor Terminal Amphitheater and a North Minneapolis Riverfront

Looking at the surface, an amphitheater at the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) would be fantastic. Selfishly, it’s just over 2 miles from me and the thought of seeing an outdoor concert at 10,000 capacity, and within walking distance is almost a dream. Awesome-O! I was intrigued enough to take a walk on the grid to hopefully learn more.

This North Minneapolis riverfront plan (opens Aug. 18 PDF) would certainly have its pros and cons along with questions. Is it easy to walk/bike there? How much of a burden will vehicle traffic be during event exiting? How will it affect housing and community? How much does the community know? Who’s paying for it? Who’s in charge? It’s a pretty mammoth sized project proposed at 48 acres, including 15+ acres of green public park areas.

To sum up a history, this plan came in with the St. Anthony Lock and Dam closure downstream by downtown due to gross, invasive carp. The UHT barge terminal operation then closed down. The terminal is now largely used for a host of industrial businesses, plus the specialty Mississippi Mushrooms and their weekend markets.

Mississippi Mushrooms Entrance

Mississippi Mushrooms Entrance at N 1st St and Port of Mpls Dr

Couple these with the wants of the city, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), and proposed features from Master Developer United Properties, and you have plans for the North Minneapolis Riverfront. The Community Performing Arts Center (CPAC) would be a key element and operated by First Avenue Productions. This destination site includes the amphitheater, 15+ acres of public green space, riverfront park, parkway, mixed-use buildings, retail, and possibly hotel(s).

Traffic and Transportation Nightmare?

Bike Lane N 2nd St and Lowry

Unprotected bike lane on N 2nd St just north of Lowry

So, how will exiting traffic affect nearby Minneapolis neighborhoods? Amphitheaters like Red Rocks and the Gorge in George (WA) are exiting traffic nightmares and are towards or in the middle of nowhere. No matter what, an amphitheater in the city will most likely result in traffic nightmares for both concert goers and nearby neighborhoods. They do mention a parkway to get to and from the Minneapolis Riverfront. It’s just a little, and maybe for those on bikes, it’s promising. Currently, nearby N 2nd St only has an unprotected bike lane. Looking from the Lowry Ave Bridge, I was surprised to see no bike parkway. I just figured there was always one there. I can only imagine they are going to improve or build on all of these. I would hope so, anyway.

Affordable Housing?   

They also place a presence on housing, including affordable housing. However, “including affordable housing” to me is usually just clever wording for market-rate housing. A concern could be not just the new housing, but also rentals in nearby North possibly going up. North Minneapolis is so community driven and it wouldn’t be a surprise (to me) for many residents to be generally against this new UHT destination. No one wants their rent increased by landlords using this new project as an excuse to do so. Related, here’s Beth’s story from Loring Park, just one of many concerned citizens in regard to protections for existing renters, not more neighbors.

Don’t Northeast North

Similar fears happen in parts of Northeast as well. WCCO reviews a few neighborhood people in fear that raising housing prices can price people out of their neighborhood. It happens in my neighborhood often, and maybe yours as well. People love Northeast, especially the Arts District. My guess is the folks there would be apprehensive if the same project was to be built on the east side of the river. Northsiders have their view, too.

A couple quotes from a North News piece:

Northsiders and North Minneapolis leaders have continued to stress the importance of being involved in the visioning process.

“There’s a way for them to do this development organically, without tearing this all down, so people can grow on it and we want to be part of that,” said Ian Silver-Ramp, founder of Mississippi Mushrooms.

Public Investment

Public investment is slated at $30 million, including the $15+ million in state bonding that’s already been approved. Maybe there’s some solace in knowing we could build approximately 16 or 17 of these at the cost we’re generously giving to Zygi and his palace. Also, the City of Minneapolis would own the UHT land until a master developer agreement is reached.

Note of Interest

First Avenue Productions is one of the development partners for this. I really look forward to see the vision Dayna Frank and co. has.

The conceptual part is now complete but still in different meetings stages. They’ve had meetings open to the public as well as presence in community events like Open Streets West Broadway. Future meetings or events could be your chance to voice your opinion in person. Infrastructure and construction won’t most likely happen until 2020 or 2021 so there’s time to get in your word!

This wound up being a nice walk and a few more photos on a shared Google Photos album are more than worth sharing.

Articles near this location

4 thoughts on “Upper Harbor Terminal Amphitheater and a North Minneapolis Riverfront

  1. commissar

    would have to be some really good security in that area. it’s just the reality of north currently that there’s alot of crime in the area. transportation shouldn’t be too problematic as long as they put in some ramps and good transit (good luck with republicans).

  2. Devin HoganDevin Hogan

    I really like the partners involved in this project, and the quality of their work is apparent in how they approached the amphitheater concept – it’s a great use of scale, sightlines, and urban decay.

    Egress is going to be god-awful, like the parking lot at Dodgers Stadium. The city could set up a park-and-ride situation or even water taxi, Chicago-style. Also an opportunity to advocate for a freeway lid to create more developable land and lower cost pressures across greater Camden.

    1. Paul JahnPaul Jahn Post author

      Devin, I didn’t even think of a freeway lid. Makes me wonder if this is a project MnDot has thought about exploring. I suppose I’m too far out of the circle to know. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Andrew Evans


    There are freeway entrances along Washington going north, and then some across the freeway going South. Washington is also pretty much 2 lanes each way until that clustermess where it goes down to 1 in the North Loop. Traffic shouldn’t be much worse than it has been over the past few years with construction on the various freeways.

    The biggest nightmare for “nearby neighbors” (I’m off of Lyn/Lowry fwiw) is that Lyndale is terrible from Broadway up (not even lined for parking…) and that it goes down to what’s pretty much a regular residential street North of Lowry. To get on the freeway at Dowling is another mess, since that’s a regular small residential street. The project more than likely won’t fix any of that, and concert goers more than likely aren’t going to be going through the neighborhood anyway. Ironically, the roads are wider and have better access on the river side of the freeway, and as I stated above the traffic there should be manageable.

    This won’t NE North, or at least it won’t have much of an impact on its own. The freeway is a huge boundary that will keep things separated, which is what the planners want anyway. The progress, growth, or whatever in North is already well underway and won’t really stop unless there is an influx of new crime. It’s pretty much the same blueprint that happened or was used in South, and NE. There are plenty of still mostly affordable houses, and it’s one of the few areas accessible to new homeowners. From there the new residents will start look for and open more local amenities, shops, etc.

    What this really does, and what the eventual goal is, is to give a good enough reason to expand up River Road and kick out whatever is left of industry along the river. They (the city and park board) are going to trade the carrot of affordable housing on this project, for future market rate or luxury condos and apartments in Hawthorne. Not that I’m really against this, I’d just like it to be called what it is rather than masked with the keywords of being good for the current community.

    Just look on Zillow at the condos by Ole Olson Park, a lot of them or all of them are $350K+. That’s the future, and that’s what is really driving this.

    As far as I know, North (someone correct me if I’m wrong) has mostly duplex rentals in mostly older homes. Think more along the lines of Uptown/South, or NE, vs Loring Park, Stevens Square, and areas with regular higher density brownstone or buildings with 6+ units. I’m not sure adding new traditional apartments would have much of an impact up here, since it’s not similar. Plus rents are going up anyway.

    It’s going to be another 10+ years, at least, but driving up Washington from downtown is going to be a lot different. It will all more or less look like the North Loop, there will be restaurants and shops up and down in Hawthorne, and any “Welcome to Nomi” signs, if there are any currently, will be moved and posted somewhere on the west side of the freeway. More than likely the name of Hawthorne will be dropped in favor of a different more trendy name, to further separate this new development from North.

    So again, let’s just call it what it is, an excuse to extend River Road and develop the strip of Hawthorne East of the freeway.

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