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Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Minneapolis Parks Foundation Commemorate Groundbreaking at Water Works

Via an August 28 e-announcement form Minneapolis Park and Rec Board:

Representatives from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Minneapolis Parks Foundation and The Sioux Chef gather for a ceremonial golden shovel toss to commemorate the beginning of construction on Water Works

Grand opening of Mill Ruins Park expansion and Water Works Park Pavilion anticipated in fall 2020

Restaurant run by The Sioux Chef anticipated in spring 2021

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) celebrated a milestone today when they commemorated groundbreaking on the expansion of Mill Ruins Park known widely by its project name, Water Works.

The occasion was marked by a “golden shovel” ceremony featuring MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura and Commissioner Jono Cowgill; the Parks Foundation’s Tom Evers, Executive Director, and Tom Paul, Board Chair; General Mills Foundation Executive Director Nicola Dixon; Bank of America Minneapolis Market President Katie Simpson; Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey; and Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson, co-owners of The Sioux Chef.

Construction on the highly anticipated park project began in late July and will continue through winter, with grand opening of the 2.8-acre park space and mill-embedded pavilion expected in fall 2020. The Sioux Chef’s restaurant, tentatively called Owamni: An Indigenous Kitchen, is expected to open in spring 2021.

Water Works/Mill Ruins Park expansion overlooks St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge; it’s located on Dakota homeland and has been sacred to both the Dakota and Anishinaabe people for millennia. It is a RiverFirst signature project that will bring visitor services and recreational and cultural amenities to one of Minnesota’s most highly visited destinations – the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, which attracts more than 3 million visits annually, a number that is expected to nearly double in the next decade.

The park and pavilion are designed to reveal layers of untold stories, in acknowledgement of the location as both the birthplace of the city’s milling history and a spiritual place that has shaped cultural and economic connections for Indigenous people and immigrants. The project will be completed in two phases, beginning with the Mezzanine phase, now under way.

An illustration depicting Water Works from above

Park, Pavilion, and Restaurant Details

The 7,800 sq. ft. two-story Water Works Park Pavilion will include a public lounge, multi-purpose room, The Sioux Chef’s restaurant, along with restrooms, and stairs and elevator to transition between the site’s two levels on First St. and West River Parkway.

On the park grounds, and adjacent to the pavilion, tree-sheltered city steps will provide a place for contemplation and programming, while a south plaza will be a gateway to the Central Riverfront. The wooded hillside on the north end of the site will retain its character and be enhanced with native vegetation, including plants with edible or medicinal value, and a direct trail link into downtown promoting access and circulation.

The Sioux Chef will conceive and manage both the four-season dine-in and take-out restaurant, as well as programming in the Water Works Park Pavilion and on the grounds. The Sioux Chef plans to create events and educational opportunities to elevate Indigenous voices as part of its larger mission to promote Native American cultures, honor plants and natural resources, and foster a vibrant Indigenous food movement.

The restaurant’s name is derived from Owamni Yamni, the Dakota name for what is called St. Anthony Falls in English; it means swirling or laughing waters.

Minneapolis park officials and local media take a tour of the mill ruins that will be incorporated into the Water Works Park Pavilion

Construction Update

Initial construction activity started in July with excavation around the buried Columbia Mill walls and rehabilitation of historic stonework masonry. Much of the initial work consisted of site excavation, grading, and utilities work. Next steps include an enhanced crossing on West River Parkway in the late fall, ongoing site work and utility installation, selective building demolition, and framing for the new building. Over the winter construction will continue inside the building.

Minneapolis-based Damon Farber Landscape Architects with HGA Architects and Engineers and a multidisciplinary team that also includes expertise in cultural resources, programming, and engineering led the design development of the project.

Following completion of this first phase, the project’s second phase addressing the area between West River Parkway and the Mississippi River is anticipated to begin in 2021.

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