MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — By Molly Rosenblatt. It’s been almost three years since the Upper St. Anthony Falls closed to boat traffic on the Mighty Mississippi. Now, there’s a vision to transform the area into a major destination for locals and tourists. While in the early stages, there are plans to revitalize the Minneapolis riverfront.
With a 49-foot drop on a concrete spillway at the foot of the Stone Arch Bridge, St. Anthony Falls is the only major waterfall on the entire Mississippi River. Since the lock closed, there’s been much less action in the area.
“This is an incredible iconic feature, we’re kind of standing here at the place where Minneapolis was born,” Kjersti Monson of the group Friends of the The Lock and Dam, said. “The falls were originally there for saw milling.”
Monson is a part of a huge coalition working to restore and revitalize the St. Anthony Falls District. “There’s going to be outfitters like Nice Ride, Paddle Share and Wilderness Inquiry providing all the programs they do, with big canoes, and there’s going to be a park,” she said.
The idea is to turn the area into a hub of recreation for outdoor activities like biking, fishing, paddling, water taxis and walking. The plan also includes a visitor center where guests can not only get something to eat, but also learn about and experience the site with National Park Service Rangers.
Monson says it’s about coming full circle by connecting the falls with the Upper Harbor, the way it used to be when boats and barges navigated the river.
“In the future, you can come here, get a bite to eat, get on a water taxi and go up to a concert at First Avenue’s new venue on the upper harbor and make a night of it,” she said.
The next step is securing pre-design funding from the state. A hearing with the House Capitol Investments Committee is set for Wednesday.