The most iconic comedy venue in all of Minnesota may be looking for a new home.
Developer Curt Gunsbury of Solhem Companies, a luxury apartment group headquartered in the North Loop, is proposing a new eight-story, 124-apartment complex at 721 N. First St. This new development would effectively eliminate 130 parking spots in the area, which would in turn force Acme to close its doors and relocate.
According to an article published in The Journal this past January, Gunsbury is hoping to break ground on the new property this July. This places Acme's future in extreme peril, as the club currently has shows scheduled through the end of summer.
Louis Lee, owner of Acme Comedy Co., says that he does not wish to leave his current location at 708 N. First St., but believes the lack of parking would present no other option than relocating.
"I have owned and operated Acme Comedy for nearly 25 years. I love the substantial growth that I have seen in the North Loop and welcome new neighbors openly, but the bottom line is this proposed apartment complex will drive my guests away," Lee said through a news release. "The people who want to see comedy and see shows at Acme Comedy Co. here will no longer come because the parking situation will be a nightmare."
In an effort to halt the development, Acme is urging people to sign this petition, refusing the proposal. Additionally, they are inviting concerned citizens to attend the City Planning Public Hearing at 317 City Hall on June 27 at 4:30 p.m., and voice their support for the club.
Over the past 25 years, Acme has helped launch the careers of countless Minneapolis-based comedians, many of whom have gone on to star in their own comedy specials, TV shows, and even movies. Comedy royalty including Louis C.K., Amy Schumer, and Hannibal Buress have all performed on Acme's stage, and just this past week the club hosted a very sold-out run of shows with writer/comedian/actor/director Kevin Smith.
Aside from its local notoriety, the club has been consistently called one of the best places to see comedy in the country by both fans and comedians, and is largely responsible for establishing Minneapolis as a mecca for standup comedy.
**Updated 11:11 p.m.
We spoke with Gunsbury, who clarified that there are still three very large lots near Acme that are not owned by Solhem Companies. In response to the question about how the new development would hinder parking for customers, Gunsbury says that the new apartments will include 220 new parking stalls, and that there is still plenty of parking space available.
"The parking lot in question is not the parking lot that is closest to Acme," Gunsbury clarifies. "Acme does not have a lease on the parking lot we plan to develop. There is a 1.6 acre lot across the street from Acme that will remain vacant. There are over five acres of other surface parking available within several blocks of the site. The current street parking is underutilized and not metered past 8th Avenue, less than a block away. At no time has anyone at Acme reached out to us to discuss their parking."
Since the story broke Monday, Gunsbury says he has attempted to reach out to the club directly but has yet to receive a response.
"We love the place; we want it to stay there," says Gunsbury. "We're very excited because they're a great business. I guess we're just confused because no one from Acme has reached out to us at all, and we don't really know how this blew up so fast."