A Preview of MWMO Green Infrastructure Projects in 2023

Construction season is about to kick off, and the MWMO and its partners have another exciting slate of green infrastructure projects lined up for 2023.

Below is a summary of major MWMO capital projects that are beginning or ending this year. You can look forward to updates on these projects periodically in the coming months; make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to get the latest news.

Map of Upper Harbor Terminal District System components.

Upper Harbor Terminal

Work will continue in 2023 on the redevelopment of Upper Harbor Terminal, a 53-acre former industrial site along the North Minneapolis riverfront.

The MWMO awarded a $2.6 million grant to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) for shoreline and habitat restoration work at its new 20-acre park at the site. Improvements include a regraded slope along the Mississippi River shoreline and the establishment of new vegetation, including native plants and oak forest habitat. Funds will also be used for a pedestrian overlook feature that will allow future bike and pedestrian trails to be routed in a manner that maximizes habitat connectivity.

Additionally, $264,000 in other MWMO-funded improvements are also planned for Upper Harbor Terminal, including the beginnings of a district system that comprises interconnected habitat, privately owned public spaces, and surface stormwater management. Construction will begin later this year on an “ephemeral stream” that will run the length of the park and serve as a cornerstone of the system. A stormwater reuse system featuring underground storage and treatment is also planned for the site, with details forthcoming.

Don’t expect the full system to be completed right away, however. The redevelopment of Upper Harbor Terminal is occurring in phases, with work expected to continue through 2030 in some parts of the site.

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Graco Park approved concept plan map.
Graco Park approved concept plan map. (Credit: Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

Graco Park Green Infrastructure

Just downriver from the Upper Harbor site, the MPRB is also developing Graco Park, a new park on the Northeast Minneapolis side of the river. A $480,000 MWMO grant will provide for green infrastructure enhancements at the park, including native habitat restoration, stormwater infiltration basins, a low-maintenance pollinator lawn, and a heated sidewalk and plaza snowmelt system powered by geothermal energy.

More than 70 percent of the park’s land area will be dedicated to native habitat restoration, including a variety of more than 250 deciduous and coniferous trees, a mix of native prairie perennial plants, a pollinator lawn, and other habitat features. Park amenities will include improved river access, a new multi-purpose community building, and a realigned bike and pedestrian trail with a new tunnel connection under the Plymouth Avenue Bridge.

When completed, the park will provide improved public access to the Mississippi River and expand on habitat improvements at Hall’s Island, which the MWMO helped the MPRB restore in 2017.

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Minnehaha Avenue and 21st Avenue Concept Plan
Minnehaha Avenue and 21st Avenue Concept Plan

Minnehaha Avenue Green Infrastructure

A pair of South Minneapolis intersections are being rebuilt with green stormwater infrastructure, thanks to a $210,000 MWMO grant to the City of Minneapolis. Two sites — one at Minnehaha Avenue and Franklin Avenue, and another at Minnehaha Avenue and 21st Avenue S — will be enhanced with features that capture and treat polluted stormwater runoff and provide pollinator habitat in the public right-of-way. A total of 8,500 square feet of impervious surfaces will be converted into green spaces with native plantings and stormwater infiltration basins.

Both sites are located within the Minneapolis Southside Green Zone, one of two designated groups of neighborhoods facing the combined impacts of environmental pollution and racial, political, and economic marginalization. In addition to providing environmental improvements, the project is intended to serve as a future learning laboratory for youth green infrastructure workforce development programs.

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Stormwater street graphic showing projected pollutant reductions at Northrup King.
Stormwater street graphic showing projected pollutant reductions at Northrup King.Stormwater street graphic showing projected pollutant reductions at Northrup King.

Northrup King Campus Stormwater Management and Prairie Habitat

The Northrup King Campus is a historic Northeast Minneapolis industrial site that now serves as a hub for the arts community. The MWMO provided $750,000 in grant funding to nonprofit developer Artspace to help rebuild the landscape in a way that both addresses environmental issues and provides a wealth of new education and outreach opportunities at the 13-acre site.

The redesigned campus will include multiple stormwater management features, including two filtration tanks, a combined rate control and treatment tank, permeable pavement areas, tree trench filtration systems, sunken trenches along streets, bioswales, runnel conveyance, and cisterns for stormwater reuse using historic grain bins.

The large size of the campus allows for significant habitat creation in a part of the watershed with relatively few large habitat patches. More than four acres of native, drought-tolerant prairie plantings and restoration seed mix are planned for the campus.

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Black-eyed Susans in the boulevard tree trenches in Hoyer Heights.
Black-eyed Susans in the boulevard tree trenches in Hoyer Heights. Similar green infrastructure is planned for 37th Avenue NE.

37th Avenue NE Green Stormwater Infrastructure

A nearly one-mile-long stretch of 37th Avenue NE on the border of Columbia Heights and Minneapolis will be rebuilt with green stormwater infrastructure beginning this spring. When completed, a total of 27 curbside bioswales and tree trenches will run the length of the reconstructed roadway, featuring pollinator-friendly native plants and trees.

This addition of green stormwater infrastructure will keep an estimated 13 pounds of total phosphorus and 2,632 pounds of sediment out of the Mississippi River each year. The project will also provide ecological benefits by creating pollinator habitat, similar to the nearby Hoyer Heights Tree Trenches. The project will also include bike and pedestrian improvements as well as utility and traffic signal upgrades (not funded by MWMO).

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Aerial view of 3030 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis.
An aerial view of 3030 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis.

3030 Nicollet Avenue Stormwater Reuse

A planned multi-family housing development at 3030 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis will construct a rainwater harvesting (aka stormwater reuse) system and other green infrastructure at a planned multi-family housing development at 3030 Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis. A total of $486,900 in grant funds were awarded to Project for Pride in Living (PPL), which estimated that 70 percent of the buildings non-potable water use will be offset with rainwater harvesting system, and the total site’s stormwater features are expected to remove 90 percent of the phosphorus pollution. Construction is anticipated to begin in late 2023.

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Projects Wrapping up in 2023

JXTA Campus Stormwater Improvements

Nonprofit art and design center Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA) is wrapping up construction on its new and improved North Minneapolis campus. A $216,000 MWMO grant funded a unique tree vault stormwater management system for the site, along with a cistern, tree planters and other green stormwater infrastructure.

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NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center

Construction is nearly complete on the expanded NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center campus in North Minneapolis. A $350,000 MWMO grant helped fund installation of a variety of stormwater and habitat features, including modular wetland systems, a raingarden, and on-site storage for reuse.

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Xcel Energy Green Infrastructure

Xcel Energy’s new Marshall Operations Center office and training facility in Northeast Minneapolis is nearly complete. A variety of stormwater treatment systems have been integrated into the site, along with native trees, shrubs, and prairie plants that will provide improved habitat along the Mississippi Flyway bird migration corridor.

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