A 10,000-capacity amphitheater, the Upper Harbor Terminal Community Performing Arts Center, is in the planning process for North Minneapolis. It's expected to have 6,000 fixed seats. (Courtesy SHoP Architects)
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally posted.
A new mixed-use development is being planned for North Minneapolis, where an amphitheater will be built to entertain an area of the city that lacks an outdoor music venue.
The plan is to develop the entire 48-acre site, 2.5 miles north of downtown Minneapolis on a retired barge shipping terminal along the Mississippi River, by the end of 2022.
Ground will break on the project in 2020, if all the funding is lined up and plans are finished, said Dayna Frank, the developer and owner of the project. The amphitheater will be known as the Upper Harbor Terminal Community Performing Arts Center.
“When we started meeting with the Cultural Arts Association in Minneapolis, we found there’s a huge need for a venue like this,” Frank said.
Frank also owns popular Minneapolis music venue First Avenue, and she’s craved something new for the north part of the city for some time now, said Shane Coen, founder of Coen & Partners, the lead developer of the project.
“Our firm has been involved in the project from the beginning and are helping envision how we can bring a new community to Northern Minneapolis,” Coen said.
The city of Minneapolis owns the old shipping terminal, so working with the city and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has been a big part of the planning process. A 15.5-acre park with green space will be built next to the CPAC amphitheater, he said.
Because the music venue will be privately owned and operated by Frank and her company, First Avenue Productions, she and not the city put out a request for proposal for an architect to design an amphitheater that can accommodate roughly 10,000 people with both sitting and standing space. Roughly 6,000 fixed seats will be a part of the venue.
The RFP attracted many capable designers, but Coen and Frank especially liked SHoP Architect's design that allows the amphitheater to be operated as an indoor/outdoor facility.
SHoP’s design will put the 6,000 seats in a raised steel structure called The Gantry with 2.3 acres of green space. It’s also designed so guests can see the skyline of Minneapolis, Coen said.
“SHoP brought a super neat approach to us,” Coen said. “They hit an architectural home run.”
According to the press release, the venue’s stage will be enclosed and “transformed into a smaller performance space during the cold-weather months and the CPAC can be scaled to a full 10,000-capacity venue as needed.”
The entire site will have 15.5 miles of public park space operated by Minneapolis Park and Recreation that will be built with a $15-million state bond, plus an additional $16 million from the city and the park and recreation board for site clearance, including infrastructure.
It will also have mixed-use housing, a hotel and office space.
“First Avenue Productions has been a great team member in our efforts to create a vibrant and healthy riverfront that creates a connection to the river, public green space, and supportive development,” Minneapolis parks Superintendent Mary Merrill said in a statement. “The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board appreciates their commitment to community engagement and benefits through art and entertainment.”
A private capital campaign is expected to raise $125 million in private economic development money for the first phase of development, after the City Council approves zoning for the mixed-use development by the end of this year, Frank said.
The pro forma calls for 60 days of ticketed events each year.
“We’re always excited when we can design buildings that celebrate urban life and create places where people gather and can enjoy the outdoors, enjoy cultures and enjoy each other,” said Gregg Pasquarelli, the SHoP Architects head principal of the CPAC project. “We all love music. We’re all avid live music people. When that opportunity came up to be connected to First Avenue legacy and to expand it, we thought what an awesome possibility of opportunities.”
SHoP will use structures from the old shipping yard as art at the amphitheater, Pasquarelli said.
Environmental studies and nearly 30 meetings have been held with community members to help bring the vision of the entire project together.
Pasquarelli and his team spent time within the community to better understand what’s needed for the site.
“It’s very open and inviting to the neighborhood. It also integrates the industrial relics into that space,” he said.
David Frank, director of the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, said in a statement that the city was excited to be working with First Avenue on the proposed project. “SHoP’s design is truly dynamic, and we’re currently gathering community input to verify whether they agree that this project would be a valuable component to include in the redevelopment of the Upper Harbor Terminal site,” he said.