Calhoun Square in Uptown is getting a new name and a multimillion-dollar makeover that would transform the once vibrant hot spot into a mix of retail, offices and possibly apartments. The three-story building is being renamed Seven Points, after the crown that graces the rooftop on the corner of Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street.
Construction to reopen that corner’s closed building entrance is expected to begin before year’s end at a cost of about $750,000. Future construction plans include converting parts of the second and third floors into offices and possibly apartments.
Chicago-based Northpond Partners bought the building last year and has focused on deferred maintenance. Now it says it is ready to explore more elaborate options for the property, company officials said.
The building, only about 65% occupied, “has somewhat declined over the past three to four years. That allowed us to acquire the property, evaluate operations and explore some of the conceptual redevelopment opportunities,” said Alistair Parry, Northpond senior vice president . “We are just super excited [about] how do we turn this property back around and how [can] it serve the local community.”
The building has faced an especially hard time during the past eight months as the economic downturn from COVID-19 affected several tenants. Restaurant tenant Fig & Farro closed in May and Sushi Tango just decided not to renew its lease as they were “hammered by COVID-19,” Parry said. There are now just 14 tenants, including LA Fitness, H & M and CB2 Furniture.
Changing the use of the property will take time but is unlikely to involve adding floors to the current structure, Parry said.
Northpond is in the process of pulling permits and presenting plans to the city and to neighborhood groups such as the ECCO Neighborhood Association and the South Uptown Neighborhood Association. Some city permits have been delayed due to backups caused by COVID-19 and damage caused by rioters after the police killing of George Floyd in May.
Scott Engel, executive coordinator of the South Uptown Association, said residents have watched as bookstores, Famous Dave’s, other restaurants, retailers and even a post office came and went from Calhoun Square over the years.
“People here … really want it to succeed. But over the last decade or so, it hasn’t,” Engel said. “We are very much rooting for [them] to make this thing work.”
Engel and other neighbors who met with Parry in January said they welcome Northpond’s plans for a mix of offices, apartments and retail at the old Calhoun Square but also want services that cater to area residents, such as a package pickup site, he said.
The group and neighbors were expected to share additional thoughts during a videoconference meeting with Parry late Tuesday.
Early site plans have won preliminary support from other corners.
“Redevelopment and more density at Calhoun Square would be welcomed,” said Hilary Dvorak, principal planner with the Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development office.
In addition to retail or commercial businesses on the ground floor, “office space and housing would both be supported” by the city’s 2040 plan, she said. “Opening the corner of the mall to Lake and Hennepin again would be a positive move for the mall as it would help draw people in.”
That entrance was shuttered about five years ago to make way for a tenant that is no longer in the space.
Engel said neighbors have long complained about the closed entrance and about a driveway next to the parking ramp on the east side of the building. It used to be Girard Avenue but was closed years ago. Now it just feels like a “huge disappointment” of an alley, Engel said, adding that he hopes it can be transformed into a nicer place for pedestrians.
The flurry of suggestions comes at a pivotal time for the city and Uptown, which have suffered from bouts of crime since the spring.
Last week, the co-working firm Fueled Collective said it would not return to Uptown after its office — five blocks from Calhoun Square — was badly damaged in May when rioters looted the CVS store above.
Parry said he and his partners are not deterred by the virus or recent uptick in crime in the area.
“Our perspective is we truly believe in the fundamentals of Uptown and the vibrancy of the neighborhood,” Parry said. “If we can deliver on the concept of what we think works, we are pretty confident that it can help the neighborhood as a whole.”
Northpond’s other Twin Cities projects include the redeveloped Broadway office and retail building that houses Spyhouse Coffee in northeast Minneapolis. The firm also renovated the Ice House Plaza on 26th Street and Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis’ Whittier Neighborhood, and redeveloped factory buildings dubbed Vandalia Tower in St. Paul.