Mill City Commons

An innovative landscape design will help a Minneapolis community space manage its stormwater sustainably in an area with poor drainage.


Project Details

City: Minneapolis

Type: Planning Grant, Action Grant

Status: Active

Timeline: 2017–2018

MWMO Funding: $59,819

Partners: Mill City Church; Stone Arch Landscapes; Urban Ecosystems, LLC

Staff Contact:
Marcy Bean, PLA
Capital Projects and Stewardship Specialist
Email Marcy Bean, PLA
View Bio

Mill City Church is upgrading its shared community meeting space — Mill City Commons — with an innovative, stormwater-friendly landscape. The MWMO funded the design through a Planning Grant and awarded an Action Grant to help pay for the construction.

The property has a long history of drainage problems. The building has a sump pump that runs regularly, draining to a common area where the building’s gutter downspouts are also directed. The neighborhood in which the site is located, Marshall Terrace, has a relatively high water table compared to the rest of the city. As a result, traditional infiltration practices are not likely to address local stormwater management issues.

The landscape is being redesigned with an engineered wetland that will capture water from the sump pump and then treat it and convey it slowly through the site using a system of layered aggregates. Separately, a new raingarden will capture and treat runoff entering the site from adjacent properties. The new landscape features are designed to retain all of the area’s runoff from a 1.5 inch rain event.

The MWMO Planning Grant allowed Mill City Church to hire Urban Ecosystems, LLC, to create the landscape design. Church leaders and the designer held a community feedback session about the project in December 2017 in which they allowed visitors to experience the design using a virtual reality headset and controller. Stone Arch Landscapes had been contracted to do the construction.

In addition to the stormwater features, the redesigned Mill City Commons property will include a number of functional improvements, such as better accessibility for persons with disabilities and new amenities. Future education and outreach opportunities could include interpretive signage, a grand opening, volunteer events and tours.

Mill City Commons project page