AMC Theater, one of Block E's last tenants, seemingly on way out

Categories: Business
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With the theater possibly on its way out, Block E may soon be a black hole of emptiness.
One of the last tenants in the downtown eyesore that is Block E may be on its way out.

Yesterday, the blighted downtown retail complex's AMC movie theater lost an appeal in federal court to extend its low-rent lease. It isn't clear whether that means the theater will negotiate a new agreement or close when its current least expires this fall, but if the past of Block E is precedent then the theater is probably not for long.

With seemingly no momentum in the legislature toward getting a Block E casino bill done, the future of the once-promising but now mostly vacant Alatus-owned development is a huge question mark.

Block E opened in 2002, after a $134 million investment by McCaffery Interest of Chicago and Hard Rock Cafe, and $38.5 million from taxpayers. In the first sign of big trouble for the development, Borders Books and Bellanote bailed out in 2008. 2010 saw the closing of GameWorks and Hooters and the sale of the property to Alatus for $14 million. Then this year, Applebee's and Hard Rock Cafe shut down.

Last spring, it looked like all the closures might have been part of Alatus' strategy to clear tenants from Block E and make room for a downtown casino. The idea was to use some of the casino profits to fund the public contribution for a new Vikings stadium. But in recent months, as momentum for using electronic pull-tabs for that purpose has built, there has been little talk of Alatus' casino plans ever coming to fruition. In the meantime, downtown Minneapolis is now stuck with a huge, nearly vacant building on the prime corner of 7th & Hennepin.

If the casino doesn't happen, what's Alatus' plan B for Block E? Right now, it seems to be anyone's guess. Some have proposed demolishing the building and converting the property into a downtown park. Others have suggested allowing 7th & Hennepin to revert to the skid row days of yore. Whatever happens, Block E's decade of ineptitude demonstrates that big-box retailers and indoor malls are meant for the suburbs, not urban cores.   

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Anna Gachuzo
Anna Gachuzo

Except for the Lagoon theater, Minneapolis doesn't have an Art House Movie Theater. Part of the Block E Theater could be used a s venue for foreign films with subtitles and Independent movies. We need to up the sophistication level of our population! The theater could use two of the screens for art films and use the remainder for kid's movies and some of the screens could host business seminars and the like. Let's not close businesses! Let's Keep businesses open and retrofit them. PEOPLE NEED EMPLOYMENT! 

JabbatheHut
JabbatheHut

This makes me very sad. That is my theater of choice.

Duh
Duh

A park? Really? The dickbags would love it if you built a park! Now instead of just loitering outside on the west side of the building, they can have a nicer place to sit and relax! Great idea! Downtown Minneapolis is a barren ghost town with no shopping and soon no movie theater. No deli, no 24 hour place to eat for business people who travel late or bar goers to sober up, no drug store open past 6pm. Let's face it It's lame. People are so afraid of change here and still hold on to Puritan ethics that prevent us from growth. Casino? Yes! Every downtown business that still survives will benefit greatly and new ones will open and thrive.

Womanphoenix
Womanphoenix

Ever been to Fond-Du-Luth casino?  I have -- once.  Never again.  I don't even like walking by the joint because of the drunks pissing in and around the building.  In contrast, I've never seen drunks pissing in a downtown Minneapolis park.

Everything you say about parks, true or not, will be multiplied -- for real -- by an order of magnitude should a casino be put in Block E.

theoko
theoko

So your point is that a park will attract crime but a casino won't.  Folks, we got us a real thinker here!

Womanphoenix
Womanphoenix

Exactly.  I'd rather have a nice park than a Sterno magnet like Fond-Du-Luth.

Urban
Urban

I like the idea of an urban park! It does seem that people on these comments are using "thugs" as a code word.

TheFlaminGinger
TheFlaminGinger

As an employee of one of the (non-failing, safe) stores at Block E, this worries me greatly. We're a thriving, vibrant store, with a friendly, stable clientele that has seen our friends and neighbors shut out and shutdown because of near-sighted plans that have yet to come to fruition, indeed, the plan for a downtown casino has seen no progress whatsoever. As a building, Block E may be blighted (All one has to do is look at the cracked and faded flooring of the second floor to see that), but don't forget the very human element that is good people losing their jobs.

Womanphoenix
Womanphoenix

I'd favor taking out the Gameworks side of the building to make a nice park or car/bike parking lot/transit hub (you'll need more parking for Target Field and Target Center anyway) and leaving the Kieran's and hotel sides up. 

Danneskjold2
Danneskjold2

Great! Now the city council is being bought out by developers so a casino can go there. Just another insider crony deal. Watch the $ flows and the voting patterns. We can look forward to more pawn shops, check cashing services, & strip bars.  The  Salvation Army may need to expand it's facilities. Oh, how about throwing in some $5 a nite flop houses too? Now THAT's real economic development....NOT!

taketheskywayorgetmugged
taketheskywayorgetmugged

The Seattle urban core has a thriving open mall called Pacific Place with a successful Theater, luxury retail, and unique restaurants.  People pay to park at Pacific Place because it's safe, nowhere near $20, and it's in the center of a vibrant downtown retail core.  It's very similar to MSP, you have the original Dayton's and its competitors, we have the original Nordstrom and so on.

Block E developers thought urbanites would be down with Applebees and Hooters?  Or even better, Surbanites would want to drive all the way downtown and pay for parking to see crack deals and eat at the same Applebees they have in Maple Valley.  Keep your microwaved steaks and pseudolocal athletic memorabilia in the suburbs, it's the only way you'll survive.I'm glad I got out of MSP before I had to watch Target HQ bulldoze Let it Be Records, Jitters Coffee, that fantastic deli next door, Shinders and all the other excellent local businesses I used to frequent at 10th and Nicollet.

JonnyBeGood
JonnyBeGood

Exactly, why would anyone want to go downtown to get the same crap food they can get in their little island of suburbity.  They were not thinking long term - they were thinking fill it up, get the money and get out.  Even if they put a casino there, it will lead to a downward spiral since thugged out wannabe pimps will hang around.

Try offering low rent to local business and not chains!

David Foureyes
David Foureyes

Man, you do everything but say n*gger. Just say it already, we know you want to say it, just say it. We can't think less of you...just say it, you already mean it.

If there is a casino downtown it will either be full of old white people or no one. Take a trip to Pottawatomie in Milwaukee sometime, it isn't downtown...it's between downtown and just south of one of the more depressed areas of the city...it's full of old white retirees.

pizza
pizza

Come on, man. Why do you have to be such a pussy about shit? All colors would use a Block E casino. It would get progressively darker around the first of the month and when it is cold outside, that's real. White guilt is real passe, it isn't your fault, ask the dude who posted above you.

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

Isn't crime down in Minneapolis?    Don't let anything like facts get in the way of telling everyone how much you hate black people or nothing.    I like how you've obviously been called a racist so much in your life you've learned to use the term "thugs" instead of the N word.   I bet the paid race relations counseler you had to see at work is so proud of you after you had to take those 30 hours of classes for the "incident" you were involved in.  Congrats on your brillant use of code words in the three seperate comments about how much you hate black people.  Keep talking like that and you could get on Fox News. 

S. Abdul Otherwise Himself
S. Abdul Otherwise Himself

Hi.  I'm a black guy who grew up on the west side of Detroit.  I dare you to go there today and walk the streets and not die.  Go on.  We'll wait.

Anyway, the Block E area  was and is lined with low-life black folks after dark.  While not every person there who happens to be black is a thug--I mean, it could be ME coming off the light rail to the theater, or the game, or to/from dinner too--there are also metric ass tons of thugs.  I know it.  You know it.  We all know it.  The end.

Full disclosure:  I also built a new house in suburbia, which may lead some of you to conclude I'm no longer black.  *Checks mirror*  Nope!  Still dark.  I can live where I want to.  This isn't the 1940s.

pizza
pizza

Damn, you really showed me what's up :)

Michelle Bachmann
Michelle Bachmann

The most pathetic type of racists are people like "pizza" who think they are being really cool and anti-pc by being racist.   I know in the mind of the very stupid internet racism is considered tough and cool but really its not.   Smart liberals like me know exactly what kind of dork you are in real life "pizza."     I"m guessing if "pizza" actually met a real live black person he would act like how Mitt Romney acts around black people.   After "pizza" got done asking the black person about "bling-bling" and "who let the dogs out" they would laugh and leave poor "pizza" standing all alone.   After snuffling back the tears "pizza"  would run back to where it is safe, at his lap top.   He immediately finds the first story he can that is somewhat connected to black people and starts his comments!    Look mommy your boy "pizza" is so tough on the internet!     I put black people in their place!  On the internet!   

MLK
MLK

Umm...sorry buddy, you dont see any other ethnic group acting like the african americans do whilst waiting for the bus along seventh between 1st & Henn...if you sat on the patio @ the Hard Rock all you'd do is CONSTANTLY get harrassed by AFRICAN AMERICANS, Gameworks was full of ill mannered AFRICAN AMERICANS who dont spend money, no one (not enough) wanted to spend money, go to a place and be harassed, take their kids/family out and have to listen/see such ridiculous/rude behavior. Sorry you're too afraid to offend anyone by calling out the bad behavior at/around Block E, African Americans ARE the perpetrators, seeing that...saying that doesnt make you racist, you moron. Maybe if more people held other "people" to a higher standard then Block E would be an enjoyable place to spend your downtime after work or on the weekend and not as one of the WORST places to watch a movie. Dont be such a wimp, call it as it is, it IS African Americans and how they act(ed) that makes Block E such a hole. Does that mean all African American are bad? Absolutely not! Does that mean that African Americans are detrimental to a sucessfull business? Absolutely not! Just the morons that hang around Block E...pants on the ground, pants on the ground....morons.

pizza
pizza

White guilt is racist as well. Keep bangin, cracker.

Went Once(enough) Dickerson
Went Once(enough) Dickerson

Shouldn't we get the 38 mil back then?    Oh and I think you meant "razed".  And can anyone recommend a theater filled with people talking and yelling and sometimes shooting throughout the whole movie?  

JonnyBeGood
JonnyBeGood

Exactly, what is it with thugs - maybe they are too illiterate to understand not to talk during a move, not to act like a thug when you are a puppet, and to pull up their pants because running from the cops is easier surely, when you are not pulling your pants up as you run off??

Advocatejustice
Advocatejustice

This just seems extremely wasteful and says a lot about American extreme wastefulness- a ten year old complex is being 'raised' - which means demolished due to lack of imagination and respect for the time - effort - and capital it took to make these raw material take shape. I read this article and read the words blight andeye sore..... skid row really?! More like extreme wastefulness"

No casino
No casino

It is a waste, but I do hope the big windowless box gets demolished.  It was made by hack architects for a commercially nonviable purpose.  It might make for a good casino building, but a casino is basically the worst idea possible behind converting it to a brothel.

Honestly even a block-size blacktop parking lot would be a better thing to have than the box.

Atrupar
Atrupar

Good point. Perhaps the Block E building could be salvaged with the right tenant mix. It's clear, though, that big-boxes aren't going to work, and Alatus doesn't seem eager to fill vacant spaces with anything new.

ab
ab

We gave up Moby's for this. Sigh ...

pizza
pizza

Block E already is skid row. If you're white after 5:00 PM, look out for jackers. If you're black after 5:00 PM, look out for cops.

Pjhynes2002
Pjhynes2002

"Once promising"?  Block E was never promising.  Everyone except the council members who voted for it knew it was a terrible plan ten years ago.

JonnyBeGood
JonnyBeGood

so true - the use of chain restaurants and Mall type mentality, meant it was a breading ground for ghetto fabulous.  In the end everyone could see it was doomed to fail.  the only saving grace was the decent hotel.Maybe they should partition the space and make it more appealing to those that don;t wear their jeans around their knees and act like thugs?

Winner237
Winner237

Agreed!  I don't know ANYONE who thought that Block E was a good idea.  All you had to do was look at the dismal failure of the city-center mall just across the street to know that you cannot build a mall in downtown minneapolis!  And the reason is so simple: why would anyone in their right mind pay twenty bucks to park at a mall downtown when you can park for free at the mall of america?

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