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Work Begins Soon to Unlock Mill Remnants Featured in Future Water Works Park Project

An indoor pavilion featuring repurposed mill remnants will be a central feature of Water Works

Work to locate/assess buried mill walls begins in August; deconstruction of Fuji Ya building begins in September

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and Minneapolis Parks Foundation today announced the start of new archaeological work in preparation for construction of Water Works, a transformative riverfront park project within Mill Ruins Park.

Work begins soon on, and adjacent to, the old Fuji-Ya building, located at the corner of 1st Street and 5th Avenue S, near the Stone Arch Bridge and West River Parkway. Archaeological exploration is necessary to fully locate and assess the condition of the former Bassett, Columbia and Occidental mill remnants. The mill walls are planned to be integrated into a new indoor riverfront pavilion and outdoor gathering spaces included in the updated Water Works design.
View Concept Design

In September 2017, careful deconstruction of the Fuji Ya building begins. Full-scale construction of Water Works will take place in 2018. The first phase of Water Works, called the Mezzanine Phase, will be complete and open to the public in 2019.

“We’re incredibly excited to have this opportunity to explore, unearth and adapt fascinating pieces of buried Minneapolis history for a new era of riverfront vitality,” says Jayne Miller, MPRB Superintendent. “These mills helped build Minneapolis into an industrial powerhouse and soon they’ll rejoin the Central Riverfront as part of its revitalization into a world-class cultural attraction.”

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 with a food vendor, 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. The Riverside Phase will follow the Mezzanine Phase and is expected to begin in 2021.

“Water Works will be a place for gathering and communing, just as Owamni Yomni or St. Anthony Falls has drawn people for millennia,” says Tom Evers, Executive Director of the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, which aligns community vision and philanthropic investment to bring parks to life and communities together. “By creating space for people and peoples to tell their stories, we’re honoring the site’s rich history even as we provide for new opportunities to connect to nature and each other for this generation and generations to come.”

The balance between park development and tree removal will be thoughtfully considered throughout construction on this project. Some trees need to be removed due to poor health, site circulation or grading, or interference with the buried cultural and historic resources that will be unearthed and showcased as part of Water Works. The site will be replanted with a diverse mix of trees using urban forestry best practices under the supervision of MPRB Arborists.

Through the Parks Foundation, the majority of Mezzanine Phase funding will be provided by philanthropic investment. In 2015, the Parks Foundation launched the RiverFirst Capital Campaign, which has to-date raised $12.3M in philanthropic gifts and commitments.

About this project

Water Works is a transformative park development project adjacent to St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge that will bring significant new historic, cultural, and recreational amenities to one of the most iconic locations in Minneapolis.

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