Interesting statistics emerge in first Riverfront Vitality report

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October 10, 2013 // UPDATED 6:55 pm - October 10, 2013
By: Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson

Some interesting statistics emerged from the first-ever Riverfront Vitality Report.

Over the last year data was collected under the direction of the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, a non-profit organization made up of various public and private stakeholders in planned developments along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

The report covered the land within a half-mile on either side of the Mississippi River throughout Minneapolis. It divided the riverfront into three areas:

Lower Gorge: The southernmost reaches of Minneapolis to the Washington Ave. bridge

Central Riverfront: Washington Ave. bridge up to the Plymouth Ave. bridge

Upper River: Plymouth Ave. bridge up to the northern city limits.

The data collected will be updated annually and is expected to play a large role in future riverfront planning and development. The report focused on five areas of interest.

Economic Health

>> Since the late 1970s $340 million dollars has been spent in public investment along the riverfront, spurring $1.9 billion in private development.

>> In nearly every category throughout the report, Upper River lagged far behind Central Riverfront and Lower Gorge. From 2002-2012 property taxes increased by 103 percent in the Central Riverfront, 102 percent in Lower Gorge, and just 37 percent in the Upper River.

>> Central Riverfront is home to nearly 50,000 jobs, while Upper River and Lower Gorge each contain roughly 10,000 jobs. Central Riverfront also had the highest number of jobs paying more than $39,600 annually.

Environmental Health

>> The report counted all sites along the river that are considered contaminated, potentially contaminated or registered for an environmental permit with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Central Riverfront had the most MPCA sites with 331, but Upper River came in a close second with 271 sites and had more sites with “multiple activities.” Lower Gorge had 123 MPCA sites.

>> Smallmouth Bass and Common Carp were the two most commonly found fish in the river, although the Department of Health recommended not eating Smallmouth Bass or Catfish caught in the area more than once a month.

>> A recent report done by Friends of the Mississippi River recommended not swimming in the river in Minneapolis due to E. Coli risks.

Cultural Resources

>> Central Riverfront has double the amount of cultural landmarks and venues (defined as art galleries, museums and theaters) than Lower Gorge and Upper River combined.

>> A Met Council survey found that Lower Gorge parks hosted 51 events last year, compared to 29 in Central Riverfront and six in Upper River

Riverfront Access

>> 1.36 million people live within a 12-minute drive of the river.

>> 100 percent of Lower Gorge’s riverfront is covered by park land and trails, compared to 70 percent of Central Riverfront and 40 percent of Upper River.

Public Perception

>> Over the last 10 years park attendance has steadily risen at Minnehaha Regional Park and Central Riverfront Regional Park, which is nearing 2,000,000 annual visitors.

>> Attendance has remained low at North Mississippi Regional Park in the Upper River.

>> In the future the MRP hopes to expand research on use of the river in Minneapolis branding, crime statistics and different perceptions of the three segments.