The Minnesota Timberwolves are moving into Block E. Provident Real Estate Ventures on Monday announced it has a letter of intent from the Timberwolves and Lynx for a "world-class training facility" to anchor the renovated Block E.
The new owners of the failed entertainment complex in downtown Minneapolis have promised a "carefully orchestrated transformation worthy of its heart-of-the-city location." VIEW ALL PHOTOS
BLOCK E RENOVATION GOALS
- Convenient access and easy navigation
- Mix of restaurants, offices, retail and entertainment
- Modern, classic design
"Our goal with the redesign is to clearly state that Block E has changed. We want it to have an energy and elegance that will allow it to look great day and night." - David Serrano, senior associate, RSP Architects.
4 TO STAY
The following businesses will remain at Block E
- Kieran's Irish Pub
- The Shout House Dueling Pianos
- Jimmy Johns
A STORIED HISTORY
For more than a century, Block E has been one of the most famous -- and infamous -- blocks in Minneapolis. Currently, it's a near-empty shell despite the prime real estate location -- but the new renovation could give it a new lease on life.
Yet, the city has heard similar promises before. For decades, Block E served as the city's red-light district -- a collection of bars, adult movie theaters and bookstores that were magnets for crime, drugs and prostitution.
In the 1980s, the city tore down most of the existing structures and replaced them with a parking lot. In the 90s, the city even moved the Shubert Theater to make room for the current development that stands today.
MinnPost columnist Brian Lambert was part of a cable television show in St. Paul when the old Block E met the wrecking ball.
"It was seedy by any definition," he recalled, "but it had a bona fide life to it which it doesn't have now."
Lambert told Fox 9 News he believes the most recent incarnation wasn't inviting enough to bring foot traffic inside -- at least, not enough to keep the chain stores and restaurants in business. Yet, what Block E lacks most is authenticity, Lambert says -- and he believes recreating the most infamous watering hole could be a remedy.
"I still think they ought to have some sort of restoration of Moby Dick's -- the whale of a drink, the back room, the women had chrome teeth and other things like that going on," he opined with a laugh. "I mean, it was real."
The news of the renovation comes on the heels of a $79-million update to the Target Center. So far, the block's owners aren't saying how much their plan will cost, but they say construction will begin early next year and should wrap up before the end of 2014.