New life might be coming to a troubled corner in downtown Minneapolis. One of the area’s busiest intersections is Hennepin and 5th Street, once home to a tobacco shop that drew the ire of city officials until it closed earlier this year. Police were routinely called to the corner for reports of drug dealing and assaults.

The building’s owner Sal Elazab (and two other partners) are behind a proposed nightclub at the 424 Hennepin Avenue building. The concept will be called Liquid and could open by the end of the year. The project’s general manager, Wayne Senior, said Liquid will include a first-floor sports bar, a second-level VIP-focused dance club and a rooftop lounge. Senior described the two levels as being a cross between Sneaky Pete’s (downstairs) and Seven (upstairs). The club will absorb Elazab’s next-door pizza shop (long 5th Street), turning it into a full kitchen that serves the bar. Augie’s strip club (neighboring the club along Hennepin) would stay put.

Liquid will go before a city planning commission on Monday to talk about its site plan, which calls for more than 1,000 square feet of additional structure. Senior said the multimillion-dollar build out would include a new roof and a complete renovation of the exterior. “The building won’t look the same,” he said. Expect floor-to-ceiling windows and stone walls on all sides of the building.

Before all this can be completed, the city must sign off on the building changes and a liquor license. Grant Wilson in city licensing said Liquid has done a preliminary interview with his staff and are expected to apply for the license shortly. The Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association supported Liquid’s license request in an August meeting. If all goes according to plan, Liquid’s contractor, Barr-Nelson Inc., hopes to start working on the building by November. The builder is working with Joseph Buslovich Architects and Design Group C, LLC on the blueprints (seen above).

Dario Anselmo, president of the Warehouse Business District Association, said he welcomes original concepts, and especially restaurants, into downtown. But he seemed dubious of any new nightclubs coming into a market that is already saturated. “We need more restaurants and wine bars,” he said.

Senior said he acknowledges the problems that have plagued this corner and thinks Liquid will have a positive effect.

“Personally, my goal is to make the corner look good,” he said. “That’s right where the Light Rail comes into downtown Minneapolis. I want people to see a beautiful building and come in and get something nice to eat and drink. Trust me, we’re turning charcoal into diamonds.”

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