New park taking shape in Prospect Park

The park will become the neighborhood’s first public green space north of University Avenue.

The site of a developing public park, which the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board plans on buying, located in Prospect Park, as seen on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Jasmin Kemp

The site of a developing public park, which the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board plans on buying, located in Prospect Park, as seen on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

by Emma Dill

A new park taking shape in Prospect Park will help bring much-needed green space to the area.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board plans to purchase the site, located near the Prospect Park light rail stop at the corner of 4th Street Southeast and 29th Avenue Southeast, later this week. The park will be the neighborhood’s first public green space located north of University Avenue Southeast. This area is home to several apartment buildings with large student populations.

As the area planned for recent developments over the past decade, stakeholders including the Prospect Park Association, MPRB and community members recognized the need for green space in the area, said Carrie Ann Christensen, a senior planner with MPRB.

“This district, as it grows, is going to be in need of an additional parkland because it will bring new residents to this area,” Christensen said. 

The area north of University Avenue, known as the Towerside Innovation District, was identified as having a “park gap” in an MPRB master plan. This means residents have to walk more than about 10 minutes to access the nearest park, Christensen said. Currently, Luxton Park and Tower Hill Park are the closest green spaces. 

Local developer Prospect Park Properties owns the roughly half-acre of land that the park will sit on and has developed the area according to MPRB designs. The park features picnic tables, a shade structure and about 50 community garden beds. 

Christensen said MPRB wanted to balance these features with the area’s community garden tradition in the new design. 

The community’s desire for a public space prompted Prospect Park Properties to turn it into a park instead of building a commercial or residential property on the site, said Prospect Park Properties President Jeff Barnhart.

“It’s a very valuable piece of real estate off the light rail stop. We obviously could have developed it into something more profitable to us,” he said. “But we thought the best thing to do for the community … [was to be] willing partners with the neighborhood, the city and the park board to make that a permanent park.”

The group also collaborated with the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. MWMO constructed a “stormwater park” on an adjacent plot. The park’s infrastructure collects and filters water into an underground storage tank. 

The water will then be pumped into the new park’s shade structure an ultraviolet light will kill any remaining bacteria, said Marcy Bean, a capital projects and stewardship specialist at MWMO.

The water will be used to irrigate the community gardens and landscaping. Four apartment buildings in the area also have access to the treated water for landscaping irrigation. As the Towerside Innovation District grows, Bean said more developments will be welcome to reuse the stormwater.

“There’s a lot more water in the tank than we currently have uses for,” she said. “So we’re hoping that there might be some other use that comes along down the road that could use that water.”

The park will offer many benefits to students and others living in Prospect Park, including a place to wait for the light rail, walk their dogs, garden and meet others in the community, Barnhart said.

“This is a legacy that’s going to be a great asset for the neighborhood for a long time to come,” he said.