Page 2 of 2 Previous
Gaviidae II was built on a site once occupied by a J.C. Penney store. In the late 1980s, city officials and the captains of retail decided to court more-upscale stores downtown — those not found in the suburban Dales surrounding the city center. Gaviidae — Latin for loon — opened in phases beginning in 1989.
“Gaviidae was built to reinforce the idea of downtown Minneapolis as a shopping destination, ” said Jim McComb, a Minneapolis retail consultant.
The project was subsidized in part by the city. In 2009, Brookfield paid $29.4 million to repay one of three loans the city’s development agency made between 1987 and 1991 for Gaviidae.
But when the Mall of America opened in 1992, “it had an impact on all the malls all over the Twin Cities, not just Gaviidae, ” McComb said.
The Neiman wing of Gaviidae tended to suffer more because the northern stretch of Nicollet Mall was a little lonelier, with less foot traffic. After years of rumors, Neiman Marcus closed on Jan. 31.
More changes on Nicollet
Now, the northern section of downtown appears to be perking up with the development of several luxury apartment buildings within a block or two of Gaviidae II, as well as the existing light-rail station at S. 5th Street and Nicollet Mall.
Minnetonka-based Opus Development Corp. plans a $100 million, 26-story apartment tower just across 5th Street from the former Neiman store. About 250 apartments are slated for the historic Soo Line Building at 5th Street and Marquette Avenue S., and a few blocks away on East Hennepin Avenue and 2nd Street, Ryan Cos. U.S. is building a $70 million luxury apartment building that will be anchored by a Whole Foods grocery store. Xcel Energy Inc. is expanding its downtown headquarters with a second building on Nicollet Mall between 4th and 5th streets.
Minneapolis officials are also hopeful that Gaviidae II will be revitalized. “The city has a strong interest in the future of the buildings and seeing them remain a center of activity for workers, visitors, and a growing residential population,” said city of Minneapolis spokesman Matt Laible, referring to Gaviidae II.
Meanwhile, Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $25 million investment to reconstruct Nicollet Mall, a project that — if funded — should help to spark the shopping spine’s historically sleepier northern spur.
Janet Moore • 612-673-7752