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City officials hope that a renovation of the mall will spur businesses to spruce up their buildings and encourage occupancy in several prominent, vacant retail spaces.
“We felt that investment in the public space could serve as a catalyst,” said Ben Hecker, interagency coordinator at the city’s Public Works Department. “We really want to encourage street-level activity.”
The designs will incorporate various modes of transit — buses, taxis, bicycles and perhaps streetcars. The City Council in June approved a plan to redirect up to $60 million to help pay for a streetcar line running along Nicollet and Central avenues.
In the past year, the mall has changed as deep-pocketed national firms bought several signature buildings, including City Center, Gaviidae I and II and the former Neiman Marcus store. When California-based KBS Real Estate Investment Trust III closed on its purchase of Gaviidae II and RBC Plaza for $118 million in February, it announced that it would pump nearly $4 million into the shopping center and office tower. However, it’s still unclear how these ownership changes will affect the mall’s real estate.
The mall soon will have an influx of new upscale residents as Opus Development Corp. builds a $100 million luxury apartment tower at Fifth St. S. and Nicollet Mall, kitty-corner from a 30-story residential tower being constructed by Mortenson Development along Marquette Av.
The two projects will mean hundreds of new residents will be able to live on or near the mall, beyond the 36,000 people who already call downtown Minneapolis their home.
Janet Moore • 612-673-7752