Despite critics, phase one of the Upper Harbor Terminal Project is approved

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously passed a concept plan for a controversial project, which would create an amphitheater, housing and businesses next to the river in north Minneapolis.

The Upper Harbor Terminal project is the city's number one construction priority.   

“This is an opportunity to make sure a girl can run down a slope of cascading dandelions, dip her toe in the Mississippi River,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

“We have a neighborhood in the throes of unemployment. People don’t know where the next meal is coming from and the city’s answer is a live music venue. That’s our concern,” said Catherine Fleming of the Co-Creation Team.

Other critics of the project said city leaders are not listening to area residents about their concerns, despite a slew of amendments promising greater community input.

“They’ve given us a sales pitch,” said one of more than a dozen people who protested the passing of the project at the city council meeting.


In a letter to the City Council, the National Park Service asked the city to “pause before voting on the concept plan.”

National officials worry the amphitheater would block river views and look like a parking ramp next to the water.


Aesthetics aside, the selling point all along has been jobs on the north side, where business districts have atrophied for decades. 

When asked about what the jobs would be in the development, Frey replied, "I don't have an answer to that."

He added those big decisions will come.  

As part of the plan, First Avenue would manage the concert venue and the Pohlad family-owned United Properties would develop the site.

Infrastructure and park improvements in phase one will cost taxpayers $37 million. However, planners expect the project to generate $125 million in economic development.