Project Location

Mill Ruins Park
102 Portland Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55401

Location Map

Project Manager

Kate Lamers

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Language Resources

Correo Electró

Key Documents


Current Phase: Planning

Water Works construction begins, section of West River Parkway scheduled to close July 29

Construction has begun on Water Works, a new downtown riverfront park project within Mill Ruins Park!

Construction Anticipated in June/July, 2019

Due to a tight construction market, staff are rebidding the Water Works project in the spring of 2019.

Attend Open House at Mill City Museum on September 27

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) and Minneapolis Parks Foundation invite the public to view and comment on the design progress of Water Works at an open house scheduled Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, 6-8 pm at Mill City Museum, 704 South 2nd St. 

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Project Milestones

2019 Construction work was bid in the spring, but team is rebidding due to high costs.

2019 Construction work will result in some closures to First Street South and West River Parkway. Team will maintain access to adjacent properties. Most of the time one lane of traffic will remain open at a minimum; however, some utility work will require closure of both lanes.  The team will maintain access to the Riverwest garage at all times. Staff anticipates closing West River Parkway from late July through the fall of 2019 with limited bike/ped access between Fourth Street North and Portland Avenue. The driveway to Mill Ruins Parking Lot near the Stone Arch Bridge will remain open and the lot will be accessible during construction.

Project History

Summer 2019

  • Begin new construction.  Approximately 12 month process anticipated.
    • Finalize grading and masonry rehabilitation around mill walls

Summer 2018

  • Grading and masonry rehabilitation around mill walls
  • Design Development and Bid Documents
  • Winter 2017/2018
  • Design Development
  • Fall 2017
  • Schematic design

Summer 2017

  • Schematic design

May 2017

  • Public engagement on Water Works design progress

June 25, 2016

  • Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) hires design team led by Damon Farber Landscape Architects for design development and construction of the Mezzanine Phase.  Construction is anticipated to begin in 2018 with an opening in 2019.

October 14, 2014

  • Minneapolis Parks Foundation (MPF) presents to Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB): Water Works Presentation

March 18, 2014

  • CAC Meeting #8/TAC Meeting #8

February 13, 2014

  • CAC and Open House Meeting #7 at the Mill City Museum

December 10, 2013

  • MPF releases Water Works Park Community Input Survey

Fall and Winter 2013-2014

July 8, 2013

April 17, 2013


  • The MPF is partnering with us to continue design exploration at the Water Works site as part of the MPRB-led planning process for the Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park

March 31, 2012

  • Public comment for design concepts closes

March 2, 2012

February 27, 2012

  • The second of two public meetings for the Water Works visioning process was held to discuss design concepts
  • Analysis and design concepts presented at the public meeting

December 15, 2011

  • First of two public meetings held for the Water Works visioning process

December 1, 2011

September 21, 2011

  • Board Action 4.3 [PDF] Approving a Partner Agreement with the MPF for a Preliminary Visioning and Implementation Study of the Water Works Site in Downtown Minneapolis

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Latest Project News from the Minneapolis Parks Foundation

Community Engagement

Community Engagement Plan [PDF]

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.

Past Meetings

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

Upcoming Meetings

There are currently no meetings scheduled. Check back or enter your email address above to subscribe and get notified of new meetings.

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.

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.

Mill Ruins Park History [PDF]