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

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

Demolition of Fuji-Ya building begins

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has begun the selective demolition of the Fuji-Ya building to make way for a new restaurant pavilion on the downtown riverfront.

The building and the surrounding area near Mill Ruins Park are slated to become Water Works, a destination park that will repurpose the remains of mills that once lined the Mill District area.

Demolition of the two-story building on First Street will unearth foundation of the Bassett, Columbia and Occidental mills. Inside the remains, the Park Board plans to embed a glassy restaurant pavilion building that will feature a year-round park restaurant, restrooms and a public lounge. The restaurant at the heart of the project will be The Sioux Chef, an indigenous cuisine concept from chef Sean Sherman and partner Dana Thompson.

Image courtesy Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board
Image courtesy Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board

The Park Board describes the demolition process as methodical. First crews will bring out hazardous and electrical materials. Then they will photograph the building’s structure for the archives of the Minnesota Historic Property Record. The building will then be deconstructed.

The board anticipates beginning construction next year. The first or mezzanine phase of the two-phase Water Works project includes the pavilion, outdoor gathering spaces and better bicycle and pedestrian connections. The Minneapolis Parks Foundation, the Park Board’s philanthropic partner, has raised about $12.7 million so far to fund the work.

The second or riverside phase will begin in 2021.