Brave New Workshop moves closer to buying new building downtown

The Minneapolis City Council's 12-0 vote Friday to approve Brave New Workshop's purchase of the Hennepin Stages space moves the longstanding local comedy troupe one step closer to opening a new home in downtown Minneapolis. It's news that thrills BNW owner John Sweeney.

"The mayor still needs to sign off and then there are a bunch of real estate and legal steps that have to occur, as there would in any transaction," Sweeney says. "I spent many years in the commercial real estate industry, so I am confident that we will own the building immediately after the successful closing and title transfer has occurred."

Sweeney's plan is to move BNW's signature comedy revue from the current location at 2605 Hennepin Avenue South in Uptown to the downtown space at 824 Hennepin Avenue South. The older location, where the workshop has primarily presented shows over the past 45 years, will then be taken over by the facility's School of Improvisation.

Sweeney sees several advantages to this, both for the company and for the customers, who routinely pack the cramped theater and contend with poles blocking their sight lines.

This isn't the first time Brave New Workshop has looked into having a second space. Between 1971 and 1991, founder Dudley Riggs operated the ETC theater at Seven Corners. There have also been additional spaces opened in Calhoun Square in 1998 and St. Paul in 2001, but in both cases operations were eventually folded back into the 2605 Hennepin location. When asked about how this purchase will differ, Sweeney deferred, saying he would comment "when we own 824 Hennepin Avenue."

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