Acme Comedy Co.'s feared parking lot development advances

A petition against the development has garnered 5,800 signatures.

A petition against the development has garnered 5,800 signatures.

Few things cause Minnesotans more anxiety than parking. For some a fear of tormented minutes spent circling the block or having to walk more than a quarter mile is enough to put a night out in the city in jeopardy. Could this parking phobia kill a nationally recognized comedy club in Minneapolis?

Acme Comedy Co. owner Louis Lee seems to believe so, and he's fighting to preserve parking spots that could be gobbled up by a new development. Comics and Acme supporters flocked to City Hall on Monday when the city's Planning Commission approved a seven-story apartment building slated for the surface lot across the street from the North Loop club. A petition against the project has gained more than 5,800 signatures, and comics from across the country have voiced their support for Acme on social media.

— marc maron (@marcmaron) June 27, 2016
Spearheaded by local developer Solhem Companies, the project would replace the 120-stall lot at 721 First St. N.

“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 last month in 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.”

According to the Star Tribune, the city is trying to address Lee's parking concerns. While the proposal sailed through the Planning Commission, it tacked on a requirement that the developer work with nearby businesses to satisfy parking demand. Solhem already planned a roughly 220-space underground lot beneath the 124-unit building. An existing 160-stall lot will remain, and is largely open to the public at night.

Other options discussed were expanding the hours of a private ramp that's closed on weekends and adding meters on a nearby street.

Lee has said he doesn't want to leave Acme's longtime home. But should the apartment project go through, he'd be apt to consider a more parking-friendly location, he tells the Strib.