New renderings of the amphitheater planned for a site along the Mississippi River north of downtown Minneapolis feature shipping containers transformed into concession stands and a sloped lawn, where concertgoers may be able to enjoy shows as soon as 2024.
In a Thursday presentation to the Minneapolis Planning Commission, city staff and developers detailed early plans for parts of the Upper Harbor Terminal, a 53-acre former industrial site along the river in north Minneapolis that is to become home to a 20-acre park, the 8,000-seat concert venue, affordable housing and more.
The city-owned property is a former barge loading and storage facility that shut down in 2015, after Congress ordered the closure of the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock to prevent the spread of invasive carp. It's located between the river's west side and Interstate 94, to the north of the Lowry Avenue Bridge.
The estimated $350 million project is nearing its first phase of construction, with site preparation set to wrap up early next year. Public infrastructure will be built over the next few years, and developers are now preparing to seek permits for individual projects.
"This has been a long time coming," said Hilary Dvorak, the project's principal city planner.
City officials have previously said the full parcel may not be built out for 15 or 20 years — but the site's star feature, the amphitheater run by First Avenue, could be up and running as soon as the summer of 2024, according to a staff report.
The report said the venue will hold an estimated 45 shows between May and October each year. Shows will generally be expected to end by 10 p.m. to comply with the city's noise ordinance.
New designs from LSE Architects show a standing general admission area that would fit 2,500, a terraced area with 1,500 seats and 100 box seats, and a sloped lawn that could fit about 4,000. Concessions would be served from 66 recycled shipping containers stationed around the venue.
"There's not going to be another venue like this built in the city of Minneapolis," said Mohammed Lawal, CEO and principal architect at LSE Architects. "This one here is very unique because for most of these facilities, the community goes out to some suburb. … This is one where the venue is going to be where the community is."
Project leaders said they are preparing an event management plan that will examine environmental factors such as parking, transportation and lighting.
Officials from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board gave an update on plans for the site's regional park, which would include trails, gardens, a communal plaza space, a mile of restored shoreline and a 1-mile extension of the Grand Rounds scenic byway. Construction is also slated to start next spring, with the goal of opening by 2025.
United Properties, the site's master developer, also presented plans for a six-level multi-family housing project that would include 212 units and 9,300 square feet of commercial space. Construction on that development could start as soon as 2024, according to a staff report.
On Thursday, the City Council signed off on a suite of zoning changes to help allow construction proceed on the site. The council also approved a $2 million loan to help build a North Loop modular-housing manufacturing plant, which will supply some of the units planned for the Upper Harbor Terminal.