Design for $27M upgrade of historic Minneapolis park is approved

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New life will be breathed into a historic area of downtown Minneapolis' riverfront, after a design for a $27 million upgrade was approved by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

Mill Ruins Park has been a hugely popular attraction since opening in 2001, giving the public a glimpse of the ruins of 19th Century mills that were once the epicenter of the city's trade, powered by the mighty St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi.

Now the next step in the expansion of the park is moving closer, with Parks Board commissioners voting 7-1 Wednesday to approve the concept design for the "Water Works" project, which would build on a four-acre stretch of parkland between Portland Ave. S. and the 3rd Ave. Bridge, according to the Minneapolis Parks Foundation.

The Southwest Journal reports, the two-part project will give the park a "massive makeover" that will see more ruins exposed, the building of a visitor pavilion with concessions, restrooms, a patio and an outfitting shop, and the creation of a mezzanine lawn, play spaces and outdoor classrooms in the shadow of the Stone Arch Bridge.

This phase of project is expected to be completed by 2019, with the second part – which will see even more of the historic mill ruins uncovered and a skim pond added – due to be done by 2023.

You can take a closer at the project by watching this video.

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"When completed, the Water Works site will become one of the most visited locations in Minneapolis and will meet the needs of residents and visitors as they come to see the historic St. Anthony Falls and the birthplace of Minneapolis," Parks Foundation director Tom Evers said in the press release.

"Water Works will be an exciting, iconic destination that builds on the Central Riverfront’s rebirth as a place where a full range of Minneapolis’ diverse communities can engage with the river," said Park Board President Liz Wielinski added. "We’re fortunate to have partners like the Parks Foundation to help make these grand plans a reality."

The Southwest Journal reports that the first phase will be the demolition of the Fuji Ya restaurant building, which it notes has sat vacant for 25 years and sits atop more mill ruins.

About half of the cost of the project will hopefully be raised via donations from companies, foundations and individuals. There's no indication yet how much of public funding it will get, the newspaper notes.

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