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$174 million RiverFIRST proposal gets nod from Minneapolis park committee

RiverFIRST, a plan that would re-imagine a 5.5-mile stretch of the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis with new parks and trails, is entering into an early design phase.

The proposal, which will go before the full park board for approval in March, includes a riverfront trail system and a number of neighborhood-accessible parks that are being referred to as the Farview Park extension, Scherer Park District, North Side Wetlands Park, and Downtown Gateway Park, according to project spokesperson Janette Law.

(To see a description of each of these parks, go here.) 

The plan, which has a $174 million price tag, spaces out the projects over the next five years, with construction starting in 2013.

It also lays out a broader 20-year vision for the area along with a number of guiding principles, she says.

The planning committee is “asking for authorization of the completion of next steps,” which center mainly on the Scherer Park site and the 26th and 28th avenues North greenways, Law says. “The major news is that the park board is moving ahead on getting schematic designs."

RiverFIRST may also help lay the groundwork for the city’s Above the Falls master plan, which includes a "rich mix of land uses," including recreation along the Mississippi's east and west banks above St. Anthony Falls, according to park information.

RiverFIRST originated as the winning proposal from the design team Tom Leader Studio and Kennedy & Violich Architecture (TLS/KVA) as a part of the international Minneapolis Riverfront Design Competition, which the park board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation jointly held in late 2010.   

The proposal stood out for the way it speaks to such contemporary challenges as dealing with water, the “green economy,” community health, and mobility, according to a prepared statement about the project.

After the contest wrapped up, the effort became known as the Minneapolis Riverfront Development Initiative.

“It’s an exciting vision for the Upper Riverfront, with the potential to bring the same water amenities to North and Northeast that South currently enjoys,” says Law, adding, “that area is significant locally and nationally. It presents the prospect of creating the most new park land in the city since the parks were founded over 100 years ago.”   

Source: Janette Law, RiverFIRST spokesperson
Writer: Anna Pratt
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