Image courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Image courtesy of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

Park Board hires Water Works design team

Updated: July 5, 2016 - 3:24 pm

Park commissioners have hired a team to design a new riverfront park that would overhaul the downtown riverfront.

Members of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board approved a $2 million contract with a team led by Damon Farber Associates to lead design services for Water Works. The nearly $27 million project would revitalize a roughly four-block stretch of parkland around Mill Ruins Park with a visitor center and new river connections.

The team will draft schematic designs for the first phase of the project over the summer and are expected to return for board approval this fall.

The group includes HGA Architects and Engineers, MacDonald & Mack Architects, Barr Engineering, Kimley Horn and Associates, Toole Design Group, The Musicant Group, Mortenson Construction and 106 Group.

The work will build on concepts the board approved back in the fall of 2014. Water Works, the primary project under the board’s RiverFirst initiative, will smooth out a system of riverfront bike and pedestrian trails, demolish the Fuji Ya building and add a low-rise visitor center and café building to a popular stretch of parkland.

The Park Board has budgeted nearly $14 million for this first phase, which will primarily consist of $11 million of Minneapolis Parks Foundation fundraising and $2.8 million from the board. Bruce Chamberlain, parks fellow with the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, which is handling fundraising for the project, said they’ve reached 70 percent of their fundraising goal for the first phase of Water Works, including administration fees. Contributions have come from General Mills, foundation board members and private donors, and more is expected to come from corporate, state and federal sources.

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The Water Works site is home to the former Fuji Ya restaurant building, which has been vacant since 1990. Photo by Sarah McKenzie

One of the first visual changes to the riverfront will come this winter with the selective demolition of the Fuji Ya building, Chamberlain said. The Park Board has a contract with MacDonald & Mack Architects to provide services for the demolition, which will uncover the 19th century mill foundations beneath the former restaurant.

Water Works would build on the popularity of the Central Riverfront Regional Park, one of the board’s most popular destinations with about 2.5 million visitors annually.

The park would be built in two phases over several years. The first phase is expected to open in 2019. The project is slated for completion in 2023.