Biernat denies such a connection. "Clearly the upper-riverfront plan promotes entertainment uses, and I think a vibrant, safe place to congregate would certainly fit well within the plan," he says. "The plan always envisioned high-density housing and an entertainment complex near this vicinity, but that was phase two, which is at least 20 years out. The plan in no way dictated the current viability of the Riverview."
Whatever the city's intentions, the facts on the ground speak their own truth: A cultural bastion of black Minneapolis will not be an anchor of the beautified riverfront of tomorrow.
The fate of the Riverview may illustrate the problems of audience polarization in a town where the black population seems big enough to support only one club. As KMSP's Robyne Robinson comments, the View belonged to the black community. "It was the one social establishment in Minneapolis that was FUBU--for us, by us--a place you were always welcome...and not a suspect, like in the Warehouse District."
"We only have one black club in this city, and that's probably the problem too," says Adams, the mayor's chief of security. "Because I've been to clubs in Detroit; East St. Louis; Little Rock, Arkansas; all over--and I've never seen one fight in these clubs. People tell me one of the reasons you won't see any fights is because there are so many clubs for people to go, so you won't have several gang flashers going to one club."
It's likely that younger patrons will find someplace else to go: The Quest, South Beach, or perhaps First Avenue. But the part of the community that seems most damaged by the closing of the Riverview is its solidly middle-aged clientele.
"This was a place where they could actually socialize with their old friends, actually come in here and see somebody that they haven't seen in 15, 20 years," Fuller III says of the Riverview's older crowd. "They're the ones that are going to lose out. They don't want to go over to St. Paul"--that is, to the club's smaller competitor, Arnellia's, which has encountered security problems of its own in recent years.
Ultimately, the Riverview represented the black community--the whole community--and its difficulties were those of black Minneapolis. Gang violence. Police problems. Civic neglect. Regrettable coincidences, all.