River Balcony

Downtown Saint Paul’s location on the Mississippi River provides a unique opportunity to create a strong link between the city and the river. The City's Great River Passage Master Plan calls for a River Balcony along the downtown river bluff from the Science Museum of Minnesota to the Union Depot. The River Balcony will contribute to downtown’s economic vitality and extend community life to the edge of the river.

Comprised of a series of parks and development sites linked by a continuous broad pedestrian walkway, the River Balcony will create a dramatic public promenade linking key downtown development sites with restaurants, offices, shops, and gathering places that will overlook the river. The 1.5-mile pedestrian path will accommodate walking, outdoor seating, gathering, and public activities.

In order to best reflect downtown's unique relationship to the Mississippi River, the location and design of the River Balcony, as well as economic development opportunities along it, need to be informed by an understanding of historic and cultural resources in the study area. Here is the full report on these resources, prepared by Landscape Research LLC in 2015. The report is included in full in an Appendix in the River Balcony Master Plan.

Downloadable Fact Sheet: 


Video courtesy of MinnPost

The city is in the process of preparing a master plan for the River Balcony, which will be finalized in 2016. The River Balcony will be implemented in phases over several years and will be financed through public-private partnerships.

In addition to the 8 80 Vitality Fund, support for this project was provided by the Metropolitan Council Metropolitan Livable Communities Fund.

Community Meeting April 28, 2016

A River Balcony Community Meeting took place on April 28, which was an opportunity learn about:

  • the final draft of the River Balcony Master Plan
  • the schematic design for the likely first section of the walkway along Custom House from Robert Street to the Union Depot.

Those who attended are encouraged to provide feedback based on what they heard at meeting through the River Balcony Open Saint Paul survey. (Download the presentation: PDF iconSPRB Community Meeting 4_28_2016.pdf)

River Balcony Prototyping Festival

On Saturday, September 10, 2016, the downtown Saint Paul riverfront’s sidewalks, plazas, parks and pathways were filled with temporary installations for the public to experience and enjoy during Saint Paul’s first River Balcony Prototyping Festival.

News Release - March 2, 2016 - River Balcony Prototyping Festival Announces Design Competition

Master Plan Release for Comment

The River Balcony Master Plan is a guiding document for development of the River Balcony, identifying project scope, development opportunities and design direction. The Master Plan contains a vision statement, goals and design principles for the River Balcony, as well as a set of design guidelines for the Balcony and adjacent private development.

The River Balcony Master Plan draft was released for public comment through Friday, May 19, 2017. A public hearing was held at the Planning Commission on May 19, 2017. The plan is expected to go to the City Council in late June, to be adopted as an amendment to the Great River Passage plan.