Glimpsing a New Model of Sustainable Urban Redevelopment

New video highlights innovative stormwater system at Towerside


(PDF Version)

MINNEAPOLIS — The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization has released a video highlighting a new sustainable, cost-effective approach to urban redevelopment. Using computer animation and drone footage, the video explores the stormwater reuse system at Towerside, The MSP Innovation District.

The Towerside District Stormwater System protects the Mississippi River from pollution by capturing and treating stormwater runoff from a group of properties near the University of Minnesota. Runoff from the area flows into a pair of plant-filled basins, where it is filtered and then stored in an underground tank for reuse. The main basin also serves as a “stormwater park” — a privately owned green space open to the public.

In this way, Towerside’s stormwater features serve many public purposes simultaneously. It is an example of a concept called “shared, stacked-use green infrastructure,” in which utilities and public spaces are designed in such a way that they serve multiple purposes.

“We believe this type of system represents the future of sustainable, restorative urban redevelopment. Instead of planning our infrastructure systems separately, we can plan them in such a way that they work together to fill multiple needs. Not only is this more cost effective, but it also allows us to create new public amenities,” said MWMO Executive Director Doug Snyder.

The video is available online via YouTube:

Towerside, The MSP Innovation District, encompasses a 370-acre area located in and around the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. The MWMO and Towerside worked together with four private developers to create the stormwater system, which is a first of its kind in Minnesota.

The MWMO provided $1.3 million for the project and facilitated an agreement between the developers — Aeon, Harlem Irving, the Cornerstone Group, and Prospect Park Properties — to manage their stormwater jointly rather than separately. The developers paid $400,000 for stormwater infrastructure and are also using cost savings from the system to establish a grant fund of up to $250,000 for future stormwater reuse projects.

The stormwater system is the first plank in a more extensive “district system” envisioned throughout Towerside. The district system design integrates infrastructure to facilitate sustainability and resilience for the community while adding new public amenities like green space. Future district systems envisioned at Towerside include district energy, district parking, and other restorative infrastructure.

“The District Stormwater System at Towerside proves that innovation is possible when we forge strong partnerships between government, community organizations and the private sector,” said MWMO Board Chair Kevin Reich. “Sustainability and water quality are issues that cross all jurisdictional boundaries, and we should work together across those boundaries to address them.”

In addition to removing water pollutants, the stormwater system will create opportunities for reusing captured stormwater for purposes like irrigation and possible industrial use. The video, which is available on the MWMO’s YouTube channel, highlights the economic and social benefits of this type of development.


Media Contact

Nick Busse, Communications Principal
Mississippi Watershed Management Organization
Direct: 612-746-4974

About the MWMO

The Mississippi Watershed Management Organization works to protect and improve water quality, habitat, and natural resources in an urban watershed that drains directly into the Mississippi River. We are a joint-powers local government unit and one of approximately three dozen watershed organizations in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Our member communities include Columbia Heights, Fridley, Hilltop, Lauderdale, Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, St. Anthony Village, and St. Paul.

We partner with our member communities to invest in green infrastructure that captures, cleans and reuses stormwater runoff. Our team monitors and tracks water quality in the watershed and conducts education and outreach to promote active environmental stewardship among residents. Learn more at

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