RiverFirst is a generational vision for transforming 11 miles of once-industrial Mississippi Riverfront as it flows through the heart of Minneapolis.

RiverFirst: Vision from Minneapolis Parks Foundation on Vimeo.

Through RiverFirst, our community will redefine our region’s relationship to the river and transform the Upper Mississippi Riverfront into a regional economic engine and world-class cultural and recreational destination.

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation is the primary philanthropic partner of the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board in RiverFirst, an initiative adopted by the Park Board in 2012 to develop riverfront parks and trails on both sides of the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis to the northern city limits.

RiverFirst is a model public/private partnership for next-generation parks rooted in values that embody the Foundation’s and Park Board’s independent but complementary missions. This bold initiative truly addresses two Foundation priorities – innovation and equitable access to world-class parks and green space.

Individual elements of RiverFirst will provide opportunities for recreation, walking, biking, historical interpretation, artistic performance, and civic engagement, connecting them along the city’s centerpiece, the Mississippi River.

2016 Key Dates & Milestones

  • Late winter – MPF and MPRB release Water Works Requests for Proposals for design development, construction administration and cultural resource consultant
  • Spring – Water Works schematic design (through Fall); 26th Ave N Trail Link & Pier and Sheridan Memorial Park concept design and community engagement
  • Summer –MPRB begins construction on East Bank Trail expansion; MPRB and City of Minneapolis release Request for Qualifications for Upper Harbor Terminal development partner
  • Fall – Fuji Ya deconstruction on Water Works site; completion of East Bank Trail expansion; completion of Hall’s Island design development, environmental review, and bidding for construction start
  • Early Winter – Selection of Upper Harbor Terminal development partner

2017-2019 Anticipated Key Dates & Milestones

  • 2017 – Water Works, 26th Ave N Trail Link & Pier, Hall’s Island construction start
  • 2018 – Upper Harbor Terminal design development
  • 2019 – Upper Harbor Terminal construction start (earliest possible)

Related Projects

Water Works
26th Ave N Overlook + Greenway (City of Mpls)
Scherer site + Hall’s Island (MPRB)
Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan (MPRB)
Above the Falls Master Plan Update (City of Mpls)
East Bank Trail (MPRB)
Upper Harbor Terminal Redevelopment (City of Mpls)
St. Anthony Falls Interpretive Plan (St. Anthony Falls Heritage Board)

The Road to RiverFirst (2010-2012)

RiverFirst began as a visionary entry in the renowned Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition, a 2010-2011 international landscape design and urban planning competition co-presented by the Minneapolis Parks Foundation with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Design Team Tom Leader StudioandKennedy & Violich Architecture won the MR|DC on the strength of their RiverFIRST concept, which addressed 21st century challenges including ecological heritage (water), green economy (economic opportunity), food and mobility.

In April 2011, the Minneapolis Park Board established the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative (MR|DI) as a special project to carry through the promise of connecting people from near and far with new multifunctional Upper Riverfront parks along “America’s fourth coast.” The MR|DI was charged with transforming RiverFirst from a visionary concept to a workable plan for short- and long-term parks-based development. More than 60 agency and community partners, along with a broad spectrum of community members, were directly involved in the MR|DI. The RiverFirst Design Team included New York-based economic development consultants HR&A Advisors, which created the RiverFirst implementation plan, and Groundwork City Building, which managed the project.

Archive Websites

> RiverFirst.com
> MinneapolisRiverfrontDevelopmentInitiative.com
> MinneapolisRiverfrontDesignCompetition.com