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Thursday July 20, 2023

Upper Harbor Terminal Community Performing Arts Center Announces New Partnerships Rooted in Community Involvement with the African American Community Development Corporation and the Minnesota Orchestra

This press release was composed by First Avenue.

First Avenue, the operating partner for the Community Performing Arts Center (CPAC), located within the Upper Harbor Terminal (UHT) development, is thrilled to announce two significant strategic partnerships. The African American Community Development Corporation (AACDC) has been named as the Community Entity and the Minnesota Orchestra has been selected as a Strategic Business Partner of the UHT project.

First Avenue’s mission to work with local partners in developing a community programming plan for the site includes a Community Entity to be the fund manager. First Avenue has identified the AACDC as the preferred partner for this role. First Avenue envisions the Community Entity serving the local community through the creation of economic development opportunities, supported by a $3.00 paid per ticket fee, estimated at $500,000 annually. The Community Entity will manage the fund to explore and develop community programming, local vendor and entrepreneur opportunities, and a youth jobs and career program.

"The AACDC looks forward to working with the UHT CPAC to establish meaningful public programming and community participation in this development. Members of our board participated in the years’ worth of community meetings on this project and have been involved from the earliest steps," said AACDC Board Member Keith Baker. "This partnership creates a new and exciting creative space within the city and with historic local institutions partnering with community members, who have a deep history of working in the community. We have the ability to provide the absolute best possible outcomes from the entire project and the surrounding community."

Founded in 2021, the AACDC consists of an esteemed group of African Americans in the Twin Cities with years of combined experience as professionals, practitioners, and developers across economic and community development sectors. The AACDC’s role is to build collective strength and capacity to convert African American ideas, capital, and action into tangible and lasting benefits for the African American community. The AACDC serves as a community leader, facilitator, and partner to help catalyze opportunities for wealth building by advocating economic development within the ecosystem and to advance sustainable economic expansion that is led by and for African Americans.

The announcement of the Minnesota Orchestra as a strategic business partner brings another respected, major music organization with deep community roots and a long commitment to sustaining a top-quality music environment for Minnesotans into the project.

“We have tremendous respect for the vision behind the CPAC project and the years of work that First Avenue, Northside residents, United Properties and the City have invested in developing this project,” said Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO, Michelle Miller Burns. “At the Orchestra we believe music plays a fundamental role in energizing, inspiring and bringing people together, and we are honored to partner with First Avenue to bring the CPAC to life and expand our region’s musical footprint.”

The Minnesota Orchestra will take the lead on private fundraising for the amphitheater, lending its skill and experience in this area to the project, as well as providing ongoing governance oversight alongside First Avenue. Subsequently, the Minnesota Orchestra will receive a portion of the revenue share when the project is operational. This strategic collaboration will provide a shared artistic vision, consistent leadership, and financial stability and permanency to the Community Performing Arts Center.

“When considering strategic partners for the Community Performing Arts Center, we knew local organizations whose missions align with the community-driven nature of the project was essential,” explains First Avenue CEO, Dayna Frank. “It is crucial that the entity responsible for the community programming of the UHT site be rooted in local leadership, and the AACDC brings that guidance. Additionally, the Orchestra is mission-driven to work to strengthen and revitalize Minneapolis through the arts. When planning one of the most equitable performing arts projects of its kind, we knew our partners must have a shared vision of the role that music plays in energizing and uniting community.”

The Minnesota Orchestra’s home will remain at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis, although the Orchestra may perform at the UHT amphitheater for select large-scale performances. First Avenue will be the lead event producer, with supplemental community programming throughout the year.

"The Upper Harbor Terminal is set to be a game-changer for the Northside," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. "The local partnerships forming around this development project will prove to be good not only for the Northside, but for the entire arts community in Minneapolis – leading to a final, community-minded space. First Avenue partnering with the African American Community Development Corporation and the Minnesota Orchestra brings a new excitement to this project, and I look forward to seeing the work they do together.”

Once the Community Performing Arts Center design work is completed, construction is anticipated to begin with an expected end date of Spring 2025. Assuming street, utility, and Xcel powerline infrastructure projects are completed as planned, community programming will also begin at that time.


About the Upper Harbor Terminal project

Upper Harbor Terminal is a 48-acre site located on the Mississippi River. It formerly housed a barge shipping terminal that ceased operations in 2014. In 2016, United Properties responded to an RFP for the City of Minneapolis to imagine the possibilities of this site. Since then, the company has worked in partnership with the city and community to create an equitable development plan that meets the community’s needs and sets a precedent for how private development can align more intentionally with community values.

About the African American Community Development Corporation

Through collective action, the AACDC leverages social, cultural, and economic capital to create and regenerate wealth so current and future generations of African Americans can thrive. We envision a community where Black excellence lives, thrives, and is preserved; and through cultural context, we develop our own narrative, spaces, land, and wealth.

About the Minnesota Orchestra

Founded in 1903, the Minnesota Orchestra is an internationally renowned symphony that today exists for the benefit and enjoyment of everyone. The Grammy Award-winning ensemble is known for its acclaimed performances in its home state and around the world; award-winning educational programs; and a commitment to building the orchestral repertoire of tomorrow, all based on the belief that music is for everyone. Each year, Minnesota Orchestra concerts and recordings are seen and heard by more than three million people via television, radio, digital streaming, and on-demand platforms. Making its home at Orchestra Hall in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, the Orchestra welcomes Danish conductor Thomas Søndergård as its new music director in September 2023.

About United Properties

Since 1916, United Properties has continued to grow as an investor and developer of commercial property, senior housing, and residential land. Privately held through its entire history, United Properties was first owned by the Hamm Family, and now the Pohlad Family.


Ashley Ryan | ashley@first-avenue.com