"I still believe that the taking of Block E was the biggest mistake the city ever made," he says. "The truth is that condemnation is what forced us to the suburbs, and today downtown Minneapolis is totally a servant to the suburbs. But when you think of the city you still think of downtown Minneapolis. And when you mention the mayor people still envision the mayor of Minneapolis. So in a sense people still do look to downtown for leadership."
Shinder says that if he ran the zoo he would use Block E to link the Twin Cities once again with Hennepin Avenue. "I remain a proponent for a vital urban core, and I still have faith that something good will develop in downtown Minneapolis. I don't believe that you can tear down unless you have a clear vision. I think people find emptiness as intimidating as any rough-and-tumble environment."
"There's nothing sadder than a downtown where there's nothing happening," says Curtiss A. "If we didn't have Shinder's this city would be so much less cosmopolitan. They have everything because Joel realizes that all these people out there have their weird little lives. Everybody's got their own deal, and that's what Shinder's is all about. Freedom. The good with the bad, the Jello and tuna-casserole people and the bondage crowd. I sold plenty of Satanic Bibles when I was working down there, but I don't think I ever sold even one Holy Bible. And whose fault is that? Are you gonna blame Joel Shinder for that? Nah, that's just good old American commerce. That's just the nature of the beast."