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Transforming the Abandoned Upper Harbor Terminal into a Mixed-Use Development

Transforming the Abandoned Upper Harbor Terminal into a Mixed-Use Development

Photo collage of Upper Harbor Terminal ProjectChallenge

Located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, ideally situated with easy access to Interstate 94, the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) was once a bustling port for barges and other river traffic. However, the site had been abandoned for nearly a decade, and its industrial infrastructure had fallen into disrepair. The redevelopment project, led by the City of Minneapolis and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), was committed to transforming this 52-acre riverfront site. The vision for this dynamic mixed-use development includes a 20-acre park that spans riverfront property, an amphitheater, over 1,000 units of affordable housing, and commercial space – all while preserving its unique historical character and achieving equitable development.


The City partnered with SEH to help implement their vision. Collaborative planning ensured that the project benefited North Minneapolis residents, protected the environment, and kept the timeline for development on track. The effort involved extensive coordination with 25 different consultants, five city departments, private developers, and multiple local and state agencies – including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. 

SEH provided a wide range of services for the project, starting with a reuse study and expanding to include survey and demolition services, preliminary and final platting, post-construction survey, plans and specifications for site clearing, rail removal, building demolition, grading, right-of-way, construction administration, engineering, and environmental services. Key tasks included conducting a sitewide Phase I ESA and an asbestos survey and an environmental investigation, which involved characterizing soil stockpiles left behind by prior tenants for reuse or offsite disposal.

The project also involved developing and implementing a Response Action Plan for the mass grading and infrastructure development phase, which was approved by the MPCA. In addition, the SEH team developed erosion and sediment control plans to meet MPCA and watershed requirements. They also assisted with a Hennepin County Environmental Response Fund grant that offset $748,000 of cleanup costs for the project.

Ongoing efforts include preparing work plans and investigating the extent of a fertilizer spill that was discovered following building demolition, per Minnesota Department of Agriculture requirements. Following mass grading and construction of public infrastructure, the site will be subdivided into seven parcels and turned over to private developers who will enter into long-term leases with the City. 

Upper Harbor Terminal

Minneapolis, Minnesota

City of Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Site planning and redevelopment features

  • Environmentally sustainable practices, including incorporating green infrastructure
  • Grant writing and successfully obtaining funding
  • Environmental investigation and cleanup planning
  • Offsite re-use of regulated fill and onsite re-use of 13,000 cubic yards of fill soil
  • Preparation of bidding specifications


  • Civil engineering
  • Environmental consulting
  • Structural engineering
  • Survey