Significant cosmetic changes are in store for the Sex World building in Minneapolis, with a new owner hoping to give the weary old structure — and the street corner it occupies — a new attitude.
The developer-buyer, Minneapolis-based Falcon Ridge Partners, pulled back the curtain on its plans for the first time publicly Wednesday night at a North Loop Neighborhood Association committee meeting. The building sale includes both 125 and 121 Washington Av. N., better known as the site of Sex World and the now-closed Sinners Gentlemen’s Club.
With the sale still pending, no tenants have been signed, but the buyer has been touring potential retailers and restaurateurs through the space. The vision is to transform the two adjoining buildings, built in 1877 and 1887, with a more welcoming and open street presence.
Falcon Ridge hopes to land a destination restaurant and another retailer on the ground floor with sun-drenched creative office space (and possibly another boutique retailer) above.
RoehrSchmitt Architecture is leading the design, focusing on restoring the buildings to their glory days by opening up the street-level storefront on the corner property and removing tarps currently blocking the windows, some as tall 12 feet.
“It’s currently a dark spot at nighttime,” Michael Roehr, partner at the architecture firm. “We want to let this thing breathe by re-injecting some storefronts.”
Sex World, arguably the most recognizable adult store in the state, came to the corner more than 20 years ago, long before the neighborhood gentrified or was even considered a safe area of the city. Amanda Hawn, principal with Falcon Ridge, said Sex World has been a good neighborhood citizen and will continue its business, downsizing from 11,000 to 6,000 square feet and moving to the property’s annex. The company’s signature dome awning will greet customers at its entrance at 241 2nd Av. N.
Early design mock-ups show the large concrete blocks punched out on the storefront and replaced with windows, illuminated vertical signs saying “The Washington” on both corner sides where the Sex World sign currently shines, a possible pocket park along Washington and uplighting to showcase the facade and historic cornice.
Falcon Ridge principals Hawn, Nathan Larsen and Will Hoeg initially just toured the Sinners building, but it was the Sex World building’s second floor that grabbed their attention. And the two buildings’ floors match up, which, from a real estate standpoint, makes renovation easier and future reconfigurations possible.
When it comes to the tenant mix, the developer emphasizes it reflect the local culture and tastes, quelling concern that they will bring in charmless vendors. The two buildings have a combined square footage of 75,000 square feet with 45,000 square feet of it designated for office with the remaining for food and retail.
“This block has a special buzz to it,” said Gene Oberpriller, owner of One On One Bicycle Studio, two doors down. “This is going to change the whole perception of the block.”
Falcon Ridge has submitted an application to the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission and expects to be on the agenda sometime in November.