Wolves, Lynx eye Block E for possible practice site

  • Article by: JANET MOORE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 29, 2013 - 8:01 PM

But others are interested in the nearly vacant complex, too.


The Block E retail-entertainment complex

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx confirmed Wednesday that they have considered the nearly vacant retail entertainment complex Block E as a potential practice facility.

“It’s no secret that we absolutely need a new facility, but we’re looking at a number of options,” said Ted Johnson, the Timberwolves’ senior vice president of marketing and communications. Regarding Block E, he said, “nothing is imminent.”

First, the team must reach an agreement with the city of Minneapolis regarding $100 million in renovations to the city-owned Target Center, made possible by the Vikings stadium bill. The city and the Wolves have disagreed over the details in the financial agreement, but Johnson said recent talks have been “productive.”

Publicly subsidized Block E opened in 2002, featuring a movie theater, Borders bookstore, Hooters, Applebee’s, Hard Rock Cafe and others. But the behemoth on Hennepin Avenue S. languished, and tenants eventually left — the 15-screen AMC movie theater closed last September.

Minneapolis-based Alatus LLC, which bought Block E for $14 million in 2010, wanted to convert the structure to a casino, but that idea failed to gain legislative approval last year.

Now the 250,000-square-foot building is being considered by a number of potential users, said Alatus principal Phillip Jaffe, who declined on Wednesday to discuss a possible deal with the Timberwolves.

“We have a lot of people interested,” Jaffe said. “No one has signed any leases.”

Johnson said the practice center will be privately financed.

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