Mozaic Project in Uptown kicks off 2007 with a Big Dig
After the controversy over the size of its tallest building was resolved in a compromise last summer (reduced from 13 stories to ten, at 112-feet high), not much has been heard about the grand $150 million Mozaic condo-hotel-retail project that will significantly change the face of Uptown. But pending final negotiations with Xcel Energy about the cost and timeliness of relocating utility lines, the stage is set for Mozaic to start construction early next year. And the first stage involves making a huge hole in the pavement that could likewise create a large dent in the foot traffic, short-term parking availability, and, sooner or later, movie attendance in Uptown.
Specifically, Mozaic will start with the digging of a four-level underground parking facility in the current parking lot space between the Lagoon Theaters and Uptown bus terminal. Eventually, the project will also feature a luxury 140-room Graves Hotel, 72 condo apartments, nearly 11,000 square feet of restaurant and cafe space, a public plaza with steps and a ramp down to the nearby Greenway, and an expanded 1600-seat movie theater complex.
Starting work on the underground parking facility was originally slated to begin in January, but will likely be delayed for a short period due to negotiations between developers and Xcel Energy on rerouting utility lines in the area. "Right now a lot of the lines run right through the site," says Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of the Ackerberg Group, which is developing Mozaic along with CAG Development. "The way it works with Xcel, we are negotiating what it cost to relocate the lines, then it could take up to four months for another of their departments to do the work."
That was back in early November. Since then, Ackerberg and his assistant have both failed to return numerous phone calls seeking an update. Xcel Energy spokesperson Tom Hoen says that from the utility's perspective, the project remains "on track," but Tenth Ward City Councilman Ralph Remington, who represents the area where Mozaic is being constructed, says he has heard that construction will now begin in February. "We were all going to meet sometime this month, but it hasn't happened yet," Remington says.
Also up in the air is the extent to which the project will compel the six-screen Lagoon Cinema complex to reduce their movie offerings, although any major disruption would seem to be a year off. Says Ackerberg, "We're talking about a variety of different options for Landmark," the theater chain that owns Lagoon and leases space in the building that will be dramatically overhauled to accomodate the hotel and theater expansion. "Everything is being considered: Having the theaters go [completely] dark for awhile, or have some of them go dark. At what points in the process do they stay open, and when do you close completely? We're trying to analyze all of that, and everything in-between."
Noting that Landmark was one of the Ackerberg Group's anchor tenants when they developed the space for movies and offices back in 1994, Ackerberg adds that "all the options have pluses and minuses, and we want to do what works best to continue our long-term relationship with Landmark. But we are pushing for answers because we need to refine the project."
Again, that was in early November. Since then, neither Ackerberg nor Hugh Wronski, city manager for Landmark here in Minneapolis, have chosen to divulge further details. "The underground parking will take a year to develop, and during that time we'll complete the design of the hotel and other things," says Ackerberg. Then the internal staging of the two buildings will come out of the ground simultaneously on both sides of the street."