Mill Ruins Park
102 Portland Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55401
Current Phase: Planning
The Sioux Chef’s Native American cuisine will bring to life the riverfront’s Indigenous culture; education, healthy living, revitalized food systems all key to The Sioux Chef mission
Archaeological exploration to locate and assess buried Bassett, Columbia and Occidental Mill walls begins in August; careful deconstruction of former Fuji-Ya building begins in September
Minneapolis Parks Foundation and Park Board preparing for 2018 construction start on phase 1 of the transformative park project overlooking St. Anthony Falls on the Mississippi River
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.
June 25, 2016
October 14, 2014
March 18, 2014
February 13, 2014
December 10, 2013
Fall and Winter 2013-2014
July 8, 2013
April 17, 2013
March 31, 2012
March 2, 2012
February 27, 2012
December 15, 2011
December 1, 2011
September 21, 2011
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Since 2013, the MPRB has been collaborating with the Minneapolis Parks Foundation to prepare a refined and expanded design for the upper portion of Mill Ruins Park, an area being called Water Works in honor of the location’s history. Preparation of the Water Works concept design was performed within the community engagement process conducted for the update to the Central Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan adopted by the Board of Commissioners on April 1, 2015. The key tenets of the Water Works design were recommended for approval by the appointed Central Riverfront Community Advisory Committee and adopted into the master plan by the Board. The Water Works concept plan builds largely from the 25-year old Mill Ruin Park plan but expands the plan to the west side of the parkway, infuses greater recreational interests, clarifies complex site circulation and restoration, and like other signature locations in the Minneapolis park system, establishes a clear point of arrival, place of shelter, and visitor services.
All are welcome to attend and provide comment on the recommendations regarding the proposed concept design.
May 2017 Online Survey – This online survey was open from May 2 – May 21. See the results [PDF].
May 1 and May 2, 2017 – Open Houses for the evolved concept design [PDF] Materials were presented both as a powerpoint and on boards. Narrative text has been added to this posting for use with screen readers and to help describe the information shown. See a summary of comments received on boards [PDF].
August 6, 2015 - Public Hearing for the proposed concept design [PDF]
October 14, 2014 - Presentation to Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Summary
March 18, 2014 - CAC/TAC Meeting #8 Summary
February 13, 2014 - CAC and Open House Meeting at the Mill City Museum Summary
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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 St. Anthony Falls with dramatic views up and down the Mississippi River. Since we purchased the property over two decades ago to build West River Parkway, the Water Works 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 we began our partnership with MPF, building on the 2011 site concept.
This project intersects the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park Master Plan planning study currently underway.
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.
Mill Ruins Park History [PDF]