While the interior remodel will depend in part on the needs of future tenants, preliminary renderings re-imagine Block E’s exterior with a contemporary flair, in line with the Guthrie Theater and the Millennium Hotel.
David Serrano, a senior associate with RSP Architects, said the goal is “to clearly state Block E has changed. We want it to have an energy and elegance that will allow it to look great day and night.”
RSP has done work on the Coloplast Corp. building in the North Loop, as well as the Millennium Hotel, Calhoun Square and a Boston Scientific building in Arden Hills.
Mayor R.T. Rybak, who was critical of Block E’s large subsidy, said in a statement: “This is a significant development for Block E, for Hennepin Avenue and for our upcoming Target Center renovation … It’s the latest sign that downtown Minneapolis is the fastest-growing and most vibrant downtown in America.”
‘A great location’
One of the biggest changes in recent years for Block E’s environs was the opening of Target Field in 2010. Jaffe said the baseball field and Target Center drive more than 4 million people a year to downtown’s western edge. In addition, the skyway still attracts heavy foot traffic as downtown workers and visitors walk through it to access city parking ramps.
“Obviously Block E has a great location,” said Jim McComb, a Minneapolis-based retail consultant. “The main problem was the original design,” he said, noting there was no easy way to walk through it on the street level. “If you straighten out the building’s circulation, then it should be suitable for retail use on the first and second floors,” he said.
As stores shut down, Block E’s reputation became synonymous with urban crime. Provident’s news release takes care to point out that stepped-up security and “strong relationships” with the Minneapolis Police Department and the Downtown Improvement District have caused police calls to decline 99 percent from 791 to 16 in the last 12 months.
In its previous life, Block E was one of Minneapolis’ seediest strips, but most of the block was razed to make way for the retail complex. The Shubert Theater was moved a few blocks north on Hennepin Avenue and is now part of the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts.
Janet Moore • 612-673-7752