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Water Works
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Water Works

 

The Water Works site (formerly referred to as the Fuji Ya site) is a part of Mill Ruins Park in downtown Minneapolis. It offers an exciting park, historical interpretation, and city-building opportunity. It is adjacent to West River Parkway and overlooks Saint Anthony Falls with dramatic views up and down the Mississippi River. Since the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board purchased the property over two decades ago to build West River Parkway, the site has been utilized for fee parking but not much more.

The Minneapolis Parks Foundation (MPF) embraces the idea that the Water Works site presents an opportunity to become a signature element of the Minneapolis Park system. In 2011, MPF received a generous donation to conduct preliminary design visioning for potential public uses of the site. The study explored alternative futures for the Water Works site that could include combinations of outdoor space, community gathering, supportive enterprise and design innovation as well as embracing the history of the riverfront. Its primary intention was to explore multiple ideas for the site and test those ideas for implementation feasibility and community excitement.

In 2013, MPF is partnering with MPRB to continue to build on the 2011 effort and continue the design exploration at the Water Works site as part of the MPRB-led planning process for the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park. The Water Works project will dovetail into the Regional Park Master Plan.

Public Impact / Projected Timeline
Updates
News Releases
Public Participation
Reports
Park History

Public Impact / Projected Timeline

This planning work will not result in any immediate closures or impact to public use of park land. Please check out the West River Parkway trail improvements page for information on those improvements and possible future trail construction.

Updates

2/13/14 – CAC and Open House Meeting at the Mill City Museum

News Releases

Public Participation

  • Fall and Winter 2013 and 2014 – Please see the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan project page for information on the current Water Works public input process.
  • In 2013, the Minneapolis Parks Foundation will co-sponsor public meetings regarding the Water Works site as part of the larger Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park planning process
  • February 27, 2012 - The second of two public meetings for the Water Works visioning process was held to discuss design concepts. Public comment was accepted through March 31, 2012.
  • December 15, 2011 - First of two public meetings held for the Water Works visioning process

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Reports

Park History

Before any European settlement of the area, the River, especially the ever-retreating falls, were spiritual destinations for Native Americans. The falls’ water power was quickly becoming a very attractive place for industry. The riverfront boomed with timber and flour mills in a matter of years. The current water works site soon held one of the many grain mills along the Minneapolis riverfront as well as a hydropower water works plant (thus the newly minted Water Works site name). The property was once home to the Fuji Ya restaurant, a beloved destination that afforded visitors a unique vantage point from which to experience the power and spirit of the river. Mill ruins still exist on the property – some exposed, some buried and some contained within the restaurant building. Besides the mills of the 19th century, the site also housed the Gatehouse, which controlled water coming into the canals and feeding the mills on the west bank. This structure is still intact, underground.

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