Block E blight: With AMC theater closing Sept. 23, there's only one business left inside [PHOTO]
There used to be lots happening at Hennepin & 7th. Now, you can park your car there and not much more.
Block E, or whatever it was called back then, used to have lots of character (see above photo). Now, it has the character of a black hole.
On September 23, the AMC Theater will close its doors. Earlier this year, theater ownership lost an appeal in federal court to extend its low-rent lease, and its days have been numbered ever since.
The theater's closure means that the Shout House piano bar is the only business left inside a city-subsidized development that former Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton called Minneapolis' "light at the end of the tunnel" in 2002.
Block E opened that same year, after a $134 million investment by McCaffery Interest of Chicago and Hard Rock Cafe, and $38.5 million from taxpayers. In the first sign of big trouble for the development, Borders Books and Bellanote bailed out in 2008. 2010 saw the closing of GameWorks and Hooters and the sale of the property to Alatus for $14 million. Then, within the last calendar year or so, Applebee's and Hard Rock Cafe shut down.
Alatus LLC, owners of Block E, are planning to convert the structure into office space, but there's no timeframe for when work on the transformation will begin. In the meantime, the prime 7th & Hennepin real estate will stand as a monument to big-box urban redevelopment gone very, very wrong.
Where's Moby Dick's "Whale of a Drink" when you need one?
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