Back-up Plan Surfaces for Downtown Block-E Complex

By Gabriel Circiog, Associate Editor The future of the Block E retail-entertainment complex is in question, as Mayor R.T. Rybak says the plan to build a $400 million casino is not gathering pace at the Capitol, the Star Tribune reported. Ten years have passed since the Block E opened, and now the building that was expected to [...]

The future of the Block E retail-entertainment complex is in question, as Mayor R.T. Rybak says the plan to build a $400 million casino is not gathering pace at the Capitol, the Star Tribune reported.

Ten years have passed since the Block E opened, and now the building that was expected to attract large crowds to downtown Minneapolis is about 50 percent empty. The figure will increase in the autumn, when the AMC movie theater departs.

In 2010, Minneapolis-based Alatus L.L.C. bought the property for $14 million; since 2011, it has been fighting to build a casino, a plan that has been seen as one way to fund a new Vikings stadium. Gov. Mark Dayton, however, is less inclined to support this method due to the likelihood of extended legal challenges.

Although Alatus is not giving up on the casino plan, a much needed back-up plan has surfaced: heavily branded office space with retail and restaurant components. Company executives have admitted that while office space won’t be as “transformative” to the city as a casino, it would still be a nice improvement.

The property would accommodate 75,000 square feet of office space but would require inside remodeling and the possible addition of a new floor. Businesses choosing Block E would have a rare opportunity to advertise themselves in signage wrapping around the exterior, a branding method permitted only in limited areas of downtown.

After the departure of the AMC movie theater, Block E will remain with four tenants: Kieran’s Irish Pub, Shout House, Jimmy John’s and Starbucks.