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Four Concepts Invite Community Visioning for North Commons

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board shared four concepts for transforming North Commons Park Recreation Center and Water Park. Community members are asked to weigh in on the design direction of a transformational vision for North Commons Park, following the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s release of four concept options for a new or upgraded recreation center, new field house, playground and improved water park.

This park is an important asset to the Northside and at 26 acres, one of the largest neighborhood parks in the city. It is not only a place where people come to be involved in recreational activities and athletic programs, but also a community gathering location for large outdoor celebrations like the Festival of Fathers for 31 years and Battle of the Badges for seven years.

Located between North High School and the Harold Mezile North Community YMCA and within a block of West Broadway Avenue, North Commons Park has been a neighborhood asset since it was established in 1907. Home to one of the largest, most mature tree canopies on parkland in North Minneapolis, it’s an important neighborhood greenspace where community members picnic, walk their dogs, play, or just relax and connect with nature right here in the city.  

And in 1971, North Commons became one of the first parks to include a recreation building. It’s this facility and the adjacent water park that are the focus of this redevelopment effort now underway.

Transformational Design Concepts

During an open house on Tuesday, January 10, at the 50-year-old North Commons Recreation Center, attendees learned that this would the largest investment in a neighborhood park in MPRB’s 140-year history.

The four concepts reimagine North Commons as a Northside hub for arts, recreation, athletics, and a host of community activities, each effectively doubling the current facility’s 21,000 sq. ft.: Two design directions would expand and transform the existing rec center and connect it with a redesigned and upgraded seasonal pool and water park; the other two design concepts propose razing the rec center and water park and building an entirely new field house and pool complex.   

Funding for this historic transformation will take visionary investments from both the public sector and philanthropy. Nearly $12M towards an estimated $35-$50M budget has been committed from public sources, with additional funding from the State of Minnesota being sought this legislative session. The Minneapolis Parks Foundation completed a campaign feasibility study in 2021, and has begun raising funds through a $250,000 Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation challenge grant to seed the campaign’s formal start this spring once the community has had time to inform and approve the full vision. Please contact Jennifer Downham at JDownham@MplsParksFoundation.org if you would like to have a campaign gift conversation.

Help Shape the North Commons Vision

The community is being asked to review the concepts and share with the design team what they like, what they don’t, and why. The design will then incorporate this input in a “preferred” concept which it will bring back out to the community and the Park Board for approval.

Now through the end of February, community members have several opportunities to review the concept plans, hear from Park Board staff and the design team, listen to their fellow community members, and share their feedback. For open house dates and other important information, download this flyer, watch this video walk-through, or visit the Park Board’s website to review the plans and take a survey.

North Commons has a rich history that has been built upon over many decades and this project aims to build on that history and bring the park and facility into the 21st century so it can better meet the needs of our community today – and generations to come.

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