The Upper Harbor Terminal site in North Minneapolis.

First Avenue amphitheater proposed for Upper Harbor Terminal

Updated: October 28, 2016 - 2:38 pm

Concert venue operator First Avenue Productions and two Twin Cities-based developers are proposing to overhaul the Upper Harbor Terminal site along the North Minneapolis riverfront.

The City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board recently announced that United Properties of Bloomington, Minneapolis-based Thor Construction and First Avenue were the only team to respond to a request for qualifications to be the master developer of the former barge shipping terminal. The nearly 50-acre riverfront site is located between 33rd Avenue North and 40th Avenue North on the Mississippi River’s west bank.

Spread across more than 31 acres of the site, the development part of the proposal features 700-1,000 units of housing, 100,000-150,000 square feet of creative office space, 40,000-70,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, and 180,000 square feet of space for advanced manufacturing, according to released proposal documents. The developers are also proposing a two-acre incubator development for a community or non-profit partner.

Submitted to the City of Minneapolis
Submitted to the City of Minneapolis

Nate Kranz, First Avenue’s general manager, told The Journal they’re also planning an amphitheater capable of hosting 8,000 to 10,000 people for concerts and music festivals as part of their proposal.

The venue would be significantly larger than the other stages the company owns and operates, including the Turf Club (350) and Palace Theatre in St. Paul (2,700) or the First Avenue mainroom (1,550) and its 7th St Entry (250). The amphitheater would be similar to events First Avenue has hosted at Hall’s Island, a riverfront area in Northeast Minneapolis capable of holding around 8,000 people, he added.

Kranz said it’s too early to say if First Avenue would own the amphitheater. A spokeswoman with United Properties declined to comment on other details of the proposal.

The proposal also includes 18 acres for public parkland that would be used for a riverwalk, which could include features like playgrounds, food vendors and/or recreational space. The site’s industrial structures would be preserved and incorporated into the park.

The design team includes Coen + Partners, El Dorado Architects, LSE Architects, Nitsch Engineering and Pierce Pini + Associates. The proposal also features partnerships for programming with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Opera and Minnesota Public Radio. Juxtaposition Arts has joined on as a community partner.

The team will give an overview of its proposal at a community meeting on Thursday, Nov. 3 from 6 p.m.–8 p.m. at the Folwell Park Recreation Center, 1615 Dowling Ave. N.

According to goals from the City of Minneapolis and Park Board, the site is envisioned for an all-season “riverfront-oriented destination” and private development that could consist of development involving local businesses and possibly market-rate and affordable housing.

A recommendation committee will review the proposal from First Avenue, United Properties and Thor and consider a three-party exclusive rights agreement.

The City of Minneapolis and Park Board also received submissions from five teams interested in being considered as potential development partners, which will be passed onto the selected master developer.

The city and board expect to begin the planning process next March.


For more information on the site and proposals, visit Community members can give feedback on the project through a City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board survey.