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Water Works Construction Update

Water Works Construction Update: selective deconstruction of Fuji Ya building has begun

Water Works_Fuji Ya building interiorWorkers perform archaeological study and archival documentation inside the building; the structural brick arch ceiling will be protected this winter and reused in the Water Works project

Selective deconstruction and archival documentation has begun at the former Fuji Ya restaurant site

Work has begun on repurposing the site of the former Fuji Ya restaurant building at 420 1st Street S into a new indoor park pavilion featuring a riverfront restaurant and food service venue run by The Sioux Chef.


Careful deconstruction of the building helps secure and protect historic mill ruins that will be incorporated into the new park pavilion and sets the stage for full-scale construction of Water Works in 2018.

This process looks different than most demolition projects. It is slower, more methodical and prioritizes protection of historic resources. First, hazardous building and electrical materials (florescent lighting, mercury thermostats, old furnace parts, etc) that require special disposal methods will be removed. Then a photographer will document the Fuji Ya structure and how it ties into underlying mill foundations for archival to the Minnesota Historic Property Record.

After the site has been properly photographed and archived, the Fuji Ya structure will be fully deconstructed. A few of the structure’s large wood beams will be stored onsite and reused as part of the Water Works project.


When the selective deconstruction project is complete, a temporary, weatherproof roof, steel doors, solar-powered exhaust fans and rooftop safety railing will be installed to protect the mill foundations over the winter before full-scale construction begins in 2018.


Fuji Ya exterior archival photographyArchival photography of the Fuji Ya Restaurant structure with window coverings removed


Water Works


Water Works is a two-phase, transformative riverfront park project along the downtown Minneapolis Riverfront.

The first phase, called the Mezzanine Phase, encompasses about 2.5 acres, from West River Parkway to 1st Street S, and 3rd Avenue S to Fifth Avenue S. It includes a new indoor riverfront pavilion featuring a restaurant and food service venue run by The Sioux Chef, rooftop terrace and plantings, city steps overlooking the Mississippi River, outdoor play areas and gathering spaces, a connection to the Mill City Quarter woonerf and improved biking and walking connections.

Phase 1 is largely being funded by philanthropic investment, through the Minneapolis Parks Foundation’s RiverFirst Capital Campaign. Phase 2, the Riverside Phase, will follow the Mezzanine Phase and is expected to begin in 2021.

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