Block E Revivals: A Star Tribune Timeline

In Loving MemoryBlock E Hooters
2006 -- 2010

10/31/1993 -- "Purchase of Block E a strategic success story"
But although the only thing standing on the block today is the vacant old Shubert Theater, the city's strategy for Block E already is succeeding. Crime in the area has plummeted, and the demolition of Block E has removed a physical and psychological barrier between the downtown core and the warehouse district, Target Center and public parking garages to the west of Hennepin Av.
Finally, the demolition has furthered other development strategies. It has made Hennepin Av. a less frightening place. It also has removed a gauntlet that commuters would have had to run between the Third Av. parking garages and their offices.

8/28/1995 -- Merge Block E proposals or get new developers, study says

Council leaders, who initially were unenthusiastic about either of the two plans, reacted more positively to the idea of a joint proposal.
The most ambitious of the plans is a $ 184 million retail and entertainment complex proposed by Loon State Ventures of Minneapolis. Headed by David Sherman, cofounder of the Valleyfair amusement park, the Hennepin Crescent project would actually span 3 1/2 blocks and incorporate the historic Shubert Theatre, which has stood near the corner of 7th St. and 1st Av. N. since 1910.The more conservative plan is a $ 90 million retail, entertainment and office complex put forward by TOLD Development Co. of Maple Grove. That project would demolish the Shubert.

10/11/1996 --City advances new Block E plan
Brookfield wants to transform Block E, the mostly city-owned block between 6th and 7th Sts., into a three-level complex that would include a floor of restaurants, a 14-screen movie theater, a large entertainment tenant that has not been identified and a huge office tower, possibly to accommodate Target, which needs about 400,000 square feet of office space.

6/1/1999 -- Plans for Block E reach pivotal point; Another deadline passes, but Minneapolis officials are expressing hope for the latest proposal for a retail and entertainment complex.
After two decades of failed proposals, May 31 was the official "sunset date" for the latest development entity to show the money. Sort of.
Brandt, president of the Midwest Group of Brookfield Properties, which has the exclusive development rights to Block E, said last week that his partnership is ready to deliver. "Everybody's going to be satisfied with where things are," he said.

3/4/2000 -- Finally, Block E's a go; After 12 years, Minneapolis OKs entertainment complex
E is for endurance. After a flurry of amendments and two hours of passionate debate, the Minneapolis City Council voted 8-5 Friday to approve a $134 million Block E redevelopment plan that only days ago was on the brink. The hotly contested decision caps a 12-year city effort to bring a retail and entertainment complex to the void along downtown's Hennepin Avenue. Developer Dan McCaffery, of Chicago-based McCaffery Interests, wants to begin construction this summer. A 17-screen movie theater and two floors of restaurants and retail venues could open in 2002, and the 256-room luxury hotel in 2003. The development plan overcame the withdrawal of a key investor two weeks ago and City Council wariness of the financing plan.

Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, who lobbied her council colleagues to vote for the project, said she was "obviously delighted. The arguments we worked paid off."

10/7/2000 -- Ground broken for new Block E; A crowd of about 200 turned out to watch Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, the developer and other officials turn the first dirt.
After 15 years, 12 failed plans and at least eight developers, Minneapolis leaders put shovels in the ground Friday and turned dirt on the Hennepin Avenue parking lot known as Block E. "There must be a line, 'It'll be a cold day in you-know-where when they break ground on Block E.' I think we have it," developer Dan McCaffery told the crowd of about 200 that turned out downtown in windy, near-freezing weather.
The $134 million project includes $39 million in public financing, and supporters say it will bring 1,200 jobs downtown to the hotel, stores and restaurants. McCaffery said he plans to announce more tenants soon. Supporters say they hope the complex will become a critical link between the city's Hennepin Avenue theater district and the Warehouse District.

-- Borders signs on to Block E development
The latest retailer added to Block E's tenant mix is Borders Books and Music, according to Dan McCaffery, the project's developer. "This is huge for the downtown," McCaffery said."A lot of people have been skeptical about Block E, but this will be a big asset." Several businesses have signed on to the Block E development, including GameWorks, a restaurant featuring interactive games; a 250-room Renaissance Hotel by Marriott; a 17-screen multiplex by Crown Theatres, plus a 500-stall parking ramp

3/4/2004 -- NOW OPEN; Bellanotte has eye-catching choices
Bellanotte is Italian for "beautiful night," but perhaps owners David Koch, Keyvan Talebi and Kam Talebi (the trio behind Escape Ultra Lounge) should have christened their new Block E restaurant Bellaposto ("beautiful room"). Florida-based interior designer Mario Echeverria washed the sprawling 250-seat space with a sunset color palette; even the onyx-topped bar has a honeyed glow. There's a lot of eye-catching glasswork, too, and enough walnut millwork to outfit several courtrooms. A spacious patio will materialize once the weather cooperates.

11/1/2005 -- Hooters could open on Block E after all; The Minneapolis mayor and City Council members are less than thrilled. The restaurant may begin operations in February.
Hooters appears to be ready to open a third Twin Cities-area restaurant in Block E early next year despite indignation at Minneapolis City Hall.Dan McCaffery, the Chicago-based developer of Block E, didn't return calls Monday, and local property manager Sue Bonin said, "I can't comment at this time - maybe in a week or two."But Matt Enkkeli, manager of Hooters in Burnsville, said the new restaurant would open in February, later adding, "That's tentative right now." He said the Hooters would be owned by John and Steve Marso, who also own the Burnsville location.

1/25/2007 -- Now isn't the time to give up on Block E; Redeveloping a notorious street requires more than a facelift.
The closing of a chain bookstore wouldn't ordinarily draw comment from this page, but Borders' decision to escape Block E carries wider implications. The store's strong presence at 6th and Hennepin signified that Minneapolis' once-sleazy entertainment district was changing for the better, that culture of a sort was overtaking the district's more sordid and time-worn attractions, that Hennepin was evolving into an avenue for everyone.That was, after all, the intent of Block E, which opened in 2003 with $42 million of city subsidy and ample hopes of transforming the district into a regional entertainment draw. But the start has been rocky. Borders cited safety concerns among its reasons for departing. Actually and statistically, downtown is the city's safest area. While crime rose 16 percent citywide last year, it fell 19 percent in the downtown core, a remarkable achievement.

8/2/2009 -- 10 ways to salvage Block E; Who needs Bellanotte, anyway? Let's make the mall an all-Hooters mecca.
First it was Snyders. Then Borders. Then Escape Ultra Lounge. GameWorks has tried to sublease some of its space but came up short. Then July 18, the latest and most high-profile tenant took flight, Bellanotte restaurant.Yes, businesses are running from Block E faster than LaToya Jackson is running to book publishers with the title "My Brother Michael."The floundering state of downtown Minneapolis' seven-year-old shopping mall is no surprise, at least not to those of us who doubted the idea of trying to woo suburbanites into the city by building a mall with everything they can get closer to home.

1/26/2010 -- COMEBACK FOR BLOCK E?; Block E's owners are offering few clues on how they might use the new Twins ballpark as a springboard to help the struggling downtown retail center.
In less than three months, the Minnesota Twins begin their first season at Target Field, just a couple of blocks away from the struggling Block E retail and entertainment complex at 7th Street and Hennepin Avenue. It's a huge opportunity for Block E to attract thousands of customers who will be looking for places to eat, drink and shop before and after games and could even return on non-game days.

3/11/2010 -- 'E' IS FOR IRISH; Kieran's Irish Pub could be the best thing that's ever happened to Block E - and vice versa.
By most accounts, the opening of the Block E entertainment complex in 2001 has been a mixed bag. Old-timers remember the "old" Block E as either a blighted hellhole in downtown Minneapolis, or a character-packed haven of edgy shops and bars.In truth, it was a mixture of both. But the infamous bar Moby Dick's -- where one could allegedly trade an Alcoholics Anonymous token for a drink -- was torn down for a Hooters. The performance and arts space Rifle Sport (an '80s-punk staple) was eventually replaced by a Hard Rock Cafe. Make what you will of the tradeoffs, but a basic element is now missing: personality. The hope is that the relocation of Kieran's Irish Pub to Block E this month will finally provide just that.

6/11/2010 -- Minneapolis' Block E has a new owner
The long-troubled Block E development in downtown Minneapolis officially has a new owner, but the man who hopes to turn its fortunes around says it's too soon to reveal any details about where he hopes to take it.
"Times have changed for Block E," Lux said Saturday. "The area's ripe right now, and we're really excited about doing it right this time."The first order of business will be to add better lighting and signs in the 550-space parking ramp. Lux also intends to renovate the lobby of the 213,000-square-foot complex to make it more "customer friendly."

[Block E circa 1960s. Img via Nohohaha.]

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