Block E blight: With AMC theater closing Sept. 23, there's only one business left inside [PHOTO]

Categories: Business
block e before after.jpg
Guy Still on twitpic
There used to be lots happening at Hennepin & 7th. Now, you can park your car there and not much more.
SEE ALSO:
-- AMC Theater, one of Block E's last tenants, seemingly on way out
-- Ira Glass thinks Block E is a prison [AUDIO]


Block E, or whatever it was called back then, used to have lots of character (see above photo). Now, it has the character of a black hole.

On September 23, the AMC Theater will close its doors. Earlier this year, theater ownership lost an appeal in federal court to extend its low-rent lease, and its days have been numbered ever since.

The theater's closure means that the Shout House piano bar is the only business left inside a city-subsidized development that former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton called Minneapolis' "light at the end of the tunnel" in 2002.

Block E opened that same year, 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, within the last calendar year or so, Applebee's and Hard Rock Cafe shut down.

Alatus LLC, owners of Block E, are planning to convert the structure into office space, but there's no timeframe for when work on the transformation will begin. In the meantime, the prime 7th & Hennepin real estate will stand as a monument to big-box urban redevelopment gone very, very wrong.

Where's Moby Dick's "Whale of a Drink" when you need one?


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62 comments
Isaac S Hanson
Isaac S Hanson

This is a shame. It is a prime location surrounded by examples of smart development, but this one failed.

keny1
keny1

Quit sugarcoating the story.  We ALL know why block E failed, and it had nothing to do with the tenants.  It was the imported Chicago "Diversity" that hung around the place that made it miserable for anyone who wanted to go there.

dbrauer
dbrauer

@atrupar Isn't Kieran's technically inside Block E and still operating along with Shout House? Caribou, too? Not sure how we place hotel.

Don Ball
Don Ball

Let's hear it for urban renewal and big money development projects! Meanwhile, NE Mpls has exploded with business, most of it organically grown.

Michael Hannuksela
Michael Hannuksela

too many things were done wrong. A - the architecture courtesy of Disney, B - Applebee's?, Snyder Drug?, C - not addressing the safety concerns outside by moving the bus stop or creating a better police presence, D - again the architecture, you can neither see in or out of the building

Michael Hannuksela
Michael Hannuksela

too many things were done wrong. A - the architecture courtesy of Disney, B - Applebee's?, Snyder Drug?, C - not addressing the safety concerns outside by moving the bus stop or creating a better police presence, D - again the architecture, you can neither see in or out of the building

Christopher Greenfield
Christopher Greenfield

This was one of the biggest failures of our City Council. They assumed that the bars that were there prior to building Block E were creating the issues (drug dealing, gang activity, etc). They failed to realize though that, the real issue is the fact that there is a bus stop on that corner where 9 buses pick up which provides a steady stream of customers for the drug dealers, as well as providing pay phones for them to conduct business on. Regardless, Block E has been a mess since it opened and will continue to be one until they deal with the underlying issues.

srta_thompson
srta_thompson

Sure, Block E in the 1960s and 70s had a lot of "character"  as in seedy, dumpy, and dirty.  It was the place to be if you were a drunk, prostitute or looking to commit a crime. I remember my mom taking me downtown when I was a kid in the 70s and avoiding that strip like the plague.  I also remember it as an ugly, trash strewn parking lot for most of the 80s.  In my opinion, the big box suburban cheap looking redevelopment of the area was just as much of an eyesore as the blacktop. I'm not sad in the least to see that it failed.  Mpls. needs to be more forward thinking and look for something that is unique and fills a niche for that space.  Why would I go out of my way to eat at an Applebees downtown if there are three of them within an 8 mile radius from my house?  The farmers markets in Mpls are wonderful, but with the horrid MN winters what downtown really lacks is a place to get those things year round.  A public market in that space, along the lines of Pike Place and Eastern Market would be fantastic, kind of like a bookend to Midtown Global Market.

Patrick Stephenson
Patrick Stephenson

Ashley, do you get robbed every time you set foot outside of Block E?

Ashley Nikole
Ashley Nikole

I think Marguerite has the only decent idea around here! I work at in block e and I don't believe the area is big enough for a park, this is a perfect idea, that is however if the other successful business in the building leave. And I can say we aren't going anywhere soon.

adam0499
adam0499

Why didn't they just make it into a nice MPLS "Central Park" in the first place?

Gina Micek
Gina Micek

Patrick Stephenson you know you'll be going to the casino if it has a massive dance floor ;)

Marguerite Selsa Mingus
Marguerite Selsa Mingus

Take the Midtown Exchange example and make a downtown exchange. Move the food stands inside. I'd rather eat fresh local food than a $9 McDonald's "Value" meal.

Gina Micek
Gina Micek

According to the article it will convert to office space - like we need more of that...

Jerold Pihlaja
Jerold Pihlaja

Who would have guessed? The block is littered with panhandlers and drug dealers! That's the effin problem.

Patrick Stephenson
Patrick Stephenson

David, that's a big-time exaggeration. I live and work downtown and walk past Block E all the time. I've hardly been hassled, let alone robbed.

paigetastic
paigetastic

Wow....that is so sad!  Maybe they should just turn it into the Nick Swardson historical museum.......lol

Lowell Huesers
Lowell Huesers

Told you so!!! A park would have been a better use than the "Ugly Zone".

Lowell Huesers
Lowell Huesers

Told you so!!! A park would have been a better use than the "Ugly Zone".

cholm1976
cholm1976

Tear it down and build a park with a band shell. Minneapolis needs a legitimate downtown park, not just the area outside the government center, which is not in the core of downtown anyways.

Christine Mlodzik
Christine Mlodzik

Block E seemed more successful when Moby Dick's, Fantasy House and the Best Steak House were there.

David McGinley
David McGinley

I'm sure all of the dipshits who rob everyone coming out of any of the places on block E haven't helped either....

Nicholas Rupar
Nicholas Rupar

If those idiots called it i-Block and painted it white, people would line up down the street to pay double for the finest cuisine Applebee's can offer.

DavidFoureyes
DavidFoureyes topcommenter

 @keny1 Yeah...fucking Polock Bear-Fan motherfuckers!

 

Racist coward.

atrupar
atrupar

@dbrauer Kieran's has street frontage. Starbucks too. (Think that's what u mean, don't believe there's a Caribou there.) Inside=no frontage

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@adam0499: because it would breed non-stop crime and lose mad tax revenue

DavidFoureyes
DavidFoureyes topcommenter

 @ceholm1 Good idea, but I;d like to see Gateway Park development move forward first...

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@DavidFoureyes: yeah! Good argument!

keny1
keny1

 @DavidFoureyes And it seems to me that the only people who are cowards are those who are afraid of the truth.  If living with your head buried in the sand makes you a happier person, then by all mean keep living down there.  I hear the weather under the sand is nice year round.

dbrauer
dbrauer

@atrupar Seems an odd distinction. Doesn't Shout House also have street frontage?

cholm1976
cholm1976

 @moore_amanda I don't consider Loring Park to be downtown. I'm talking about a park that people could go hang out in during their lunch breaks and just some open space that's not a parking lot in the middle of the bustle of downtown to make it a more inviting place to be.

chris_steller
chris_steller

@dbrauer @atrupar Tagline for competing redevelopment for Block E (didn't win council favor) was something like "100 doors" or "1,000 doors"

atrupar
atrupar

@dbrauer That's the point I was trying to make by separating inside/outside frontage biz.

atrupar
atrupar

@dbrauer Right. As someone who ate at 'Bees too many times after Wolves games, it's stunning to think that whole level is totally abandoned.

dbrauer
dbrauer

@atrupar In fact, when I covered its unveiling, McCaffrey made a point of saying it wasn't designed with traditional mall flow.

dbrauer
dbrauer

@atrupar No doubt Block E contains weirdest architectural decisions, but Borders, Bellanote, Jimmy Johns, Hard Rock all had street doors.

atrupar
atrupar

@dbrauer Reason it's relevant is because Block E was idealized to be downtown mall, enclosed from street. Obviously that's failed.

atrupar
atrupar

@dbrauer No. U have to walk through lower level of Block E to get there, though there is a sign outside. 'Bees, AMC, Pancheros all inside 2

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