Does Minneapolis have too many hotels? One wonders, and you think, "Do raccoons ever get earaches? Because I care about that just as much." OK, granted, but the announcement that the Plymouth Building will be turned into an ultraluxury hotel for people so well off they actually eat minibar snacks is an interesting development.

Old postcards of the Plymouth show a different citizen: The edges were trimmed with white terra-cotta, the cornice lathered with ornate decorations. All the frothy lather was removed to give it a Modern look, because unless the thing was stripped of its charm businessmen would think it was suitable only for offices where you ordered whale oil by telegraph.

We had a cure for old tired buildings back then, and that was the big swinging ball. The Andrews Hotel, which covered the Plymouth's backside, was slaughtered in the great Old Hotel Massacre of the 1980s, when the Dyckman, Curtis, Leamington, and Nicollet were clawed to death. All the transients who lived in the buildings were kindly told to evaporate. No one lived downtown anymore.

Well, the more things change, and so on. If current trends continue, the IDS will be converted to a hotel in 2047, marking the end of office space in the core city. It's better than demolition, and a new hotel is fine. But you wish someone would announce the construction of a 70-story office tower, expressing total confidence in the market. Never mind the impact on the skyline, the proud sight of a glass tower glowing in the sunset; never mind the addition of workers to downtown to complement the residents. It would be a sign the market was about to crash, and you could sell all your stocks.

How big a crash? The financial sector has a colloquial description: "big enough to give a raccoon an earache."