General Mills Foundation gives $3M to Mpls. riverfront revamp

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A huge overhaul for downtown Minneapolis' Mill Ruins Park riverfront area got a financial boost from one of the state's iconic companies.

The General Mills Foundation said Wednesday it's gifting $3 million to the RiverFirst project – an effort spearheaded by the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to turn what used to be an industrial space into a recreational, historic and artistic connection space, its website says.

The General Mills Foundation's gift will be used for what is essentially a re-imagining of an 11-mile stretch of the riverfront, to include community spaces, trails, river access and more, according to a release from the Parks Foundation.

The $3 million will be doled out over three years, and go toward three projects, the Parks Foundation says:

  • Water Works – a reworking of Mill Ruins Park (called Central Riverfront);
  • A trail link and pier at 26th Avenue North;
  • And a future riverfront park and beach at Hall’s Island.

The gift comes as part of General Mills' 150th anniversary celebration, and is targeted at the birthplace of General Mills. Cadwallader Washburn started the company that would turn into General Mills in 1866, building a flour mill at St. Anthony Falls, according to its history.

The gift was presented by General Mills Chairman and CEO Ken Powell at an event on Wednesday.

It's all tied in with the $27 million upgrade approved by the Minneapolis Parks Foundation last fall.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges called the project "transformative," according to General Mills.

Groundbreaking of phase one is expected to start this year, the Parks Foundation says.

According to last fall's timeline, this phase of the 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.

Here's a video overview of the project:

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