Alliance joins organizations calling for true co-creation at Upper Harbor Terminal

On January 17, the Alliance co-authored and signed-on to a letter from a coalition of organizations working to ensure true community engagement and co-creation at the Upper Harbor Terminal — a development happening on 48 acres of publicly owned land. Read the full text below! 

Mayor Frey and Council members:

We write today to express our concerns with the proposed concept plan for the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) redevelopment that will come before you in the near future.

We believe the UHT redevelopment project is the cornerstone for the long-anticipated transformation of the riverfront and active redress of the historic environmental harms and economic disinvestment in north Minneapolis. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to develop a long-neglected part of the community by centering the needs of area residents while also ensuring the inclusion of  Promise Zone and Green Zone goals that create  inclusive economic development, reduce racial inequities and advance environmental sustainability.

Our organizations have been active participants in the planning process because we know that the major investments in riverfront parks and trails and adjacent redevelopment of former industrial land has the potential to create a vibrant community amenity and set a high standard for community-driven re-development. But equitable development isn’t simply mitigating the most egregious harm of displacement; it is co-creating the vision with community members. Local residents and leaders have called for this project to provide meaningful, family-supporting jobs, truly affordable housing and entrepreneurial opportunities for local residents. 

Because of our consistent involvement we are disappointed that the development team has presented only a single plan and the community has not had the opportunity to explore and contrast the merits, costs and benefits of alternatives. Because the UHT is city-owned property, the public rightfully expects a higher standard of community deliberation and engagement, including community ownership and a community benefits agreement that makes meaningful progress toward repairing and compensating community for the harmful legacy of previous policies and developments.

While not without its merits, we do not believe the current concept plan fully addresses these principles of equitable development, ecological health and sustainability, and public access to expansive riverfront parks that addresses community needs.

Therefore, we respectfully make the following requests:

  • Do NOT approve the UHT Concept Plan in its current form; and
  • Extend the planning timeline to include a more robust process that more deeply engages neighborhood residents and community stakeholders as co-creators and partners alongside developers, city and park board staff.

We believe the current concept plan can serve as the baseline from which to broaden the discussion on a range of alternatives that are developed from community vision — and then tested and analyzed for market and technical feasibility and cost. We believe such a process will result in an enhanced plan that truly meets the promise of this once-in-a-generation opportunity rather than continuing a long legacy of overlooking or undermining the needs of local residents in service to private interests.

Thank you for your consideration.


Whitney Clark, Executive Director, Friends of the Mississippi River

Shannon Smith Jones, Executive Director, Hope Community, Inc.

Mike Harley, Chief Executive Officer, Environmental Initiative

Margaret Levin, State Director, Sierra Club North Star Chapter

Joo Hee Pomplun, Director of Organizing & Research, Alliance for Metropolitan Stability

Nicole Rom, Executive Director, Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy

Kyle Samejima, Executive Director, Minneapolis Climate Action