The once most prominent downtown Minneapolis retail corner, which pretty much went dark in recent years, is going to get a face-lift.
Ryan Cos., which manages the 36-year-old City Center, said the $3 million project will include a “monumental facade improvement,” of the northwest corner of 7th Street and the Nicollet Mall.
“We’re going to take this corner and bring it to life,” said Jim Durda, the veteran downtown commercial real estate manager who joined Ryan last year as general manager of City Center. “We need some destination shopping downtown. Between what we’re doing and what the owners of the remodeling Dayton’s Project are doing [the former department store across 7th Street] it will be significant.”
Ryan expects to announce three new City Center retail tenants at that corner within several weeks.
“We believe this renovation will invigorate the next chapter for City Center,” Durda said.
The project includes replacing the concrete panels with updated structural materials, additional lighting and extensive glass. New signs will adorn interior and exterior walls and a second-floor covered patio space will overlook 7th and Nicollet.
Last year, City Center 33 South Property LLC, an entity controlled by Samsung Life Insurance, bought the 51-story City Center from a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group for $320 million, a record price for a Minneapolis commercial property.
The complex occupies nearly two city blocks and includes 1.5 million square feet of space, including the office tower, 33 South Sixth Street; a three-level, 381,630-square-foot retail mall, a 687-stall attached parking garage and the Minneapolis Marriott.
Retail tenants include Marshalls, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Brooks Brothers, Allen Edmonds, Pacifier, Cardigan Donuts and others.
City Center was developed by the former Oxford Development and opened in 1983 when downtown was starved for new construction and retail development.
It was long panned for its energy-efficient but industrial-looking sand-colored exterior. The exterior has been brightened somewhat over the years by flags and signage.
In 1970, Mary Tyler Moore exuberantly tossed her hat among the crowd of shoppers at that intersection, creating the TV moment that would symbolize Minneapolis to followers of her CBS sitcom, for years.
By 2017, all four corners of once-vibrant 7th Street and Nicollet Mall, were dead.
However, the closing of Macy’s in 2017, which occupied the former Dayton’s flagship store for several years, failure of Saks Fifth Avenue across the mall, as well as the departure of bankrupt Sports Authority in City Center, took a toll on the corner.
A few stores have opened in the IDS Center, such as Nordstrom Rack. And a Walgreens opened in the Gaviidae Common, in addition to North Memorial Health Hospital within the last couple years, kindling hopes of a modest comeback for a corner that once boasted bustling retail.