Block E (archive)

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John
Capella Tower
Posts: 2254
Joined: May 31st, 2012, 2:06 pm

Re: Block E

Postby John » June 6th, 2012, 10:49 am

Hennepin Ave is really on the upswing as far as development goes. I've lived downtown for 30 years and I'm amazed at the positive change over just the last couple years, especially on the northern and southen edges of Hennepin Ave downtown. I agree the issue ( and perception) of public safety is a major concern for this area. You could have the Taj Majal at 7th and Hennepin , but if people don't feel safe , no one will visit. However I do think a major revamp of City Center and Block E would contribute to a safer environment for the public in this area. And quite frankly: the bus stops along 7th Street should be removed between Nicollet Mall and Target Center, with bus routes reconfigured. These stops are way too small and not designed for the sheer numbers of people using them. It encourages loitering and malingering.

writruth
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 114
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 4:57 pm

Re: Block E

Postby writruth » June 6th, 2012, 12:19 pm

Assuming the Block E casino idea is dead, the challenge remains: What to build at this lynchpin downtown site.

The notion of a tech mall with, wait for it... a Best Buy store, is underwhelming, hardly the solution capable of injecting a sense of raw excitement capable of drawing suburbanites and tourists in droves to the heart of downtown.

As we have written repeatedly in the precursor to this online site, the solution for Block E has to be dramatic, has to be a game-changer -- a destination -- one that will capture the imagination of would-be visitors, ideally one that does not exist elsewhere. Certainly there could be complimentary anchor restaurants like the often mentioned Cheesecake Factory, and a downtown Apple Store would be a welcome addition but even those types of suburban chains are not sufficient.

San Francisco has Fisherman's Warf, Dubai has an indoor ski slope and a sail-shaped hotel built over the water, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Seattle and Toronto have space needles and transmission towers that immediately distinguish their respective cities.

Minneapolis is known for it's commitment to the arts, for great medical facilities, and for it's incredible parks/chain of lakes and the Mighty Mississippi.

Block E should be seen as an architectural opportunity to create a signature, Minneapolis brand, that declares something about who we are, our sophistication, values and drive. Someone suggested once an epic water park; another suggested a news outlet. But they don't seem bold enough. Thoughts?

Tyler
Foshay Tower
Posts: 881
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 10:10 am

Re: Block E

Postby Tyler » June 6th, 2012, 12:32 pm

It think it would be a lot easier to do such a thing with new development than in a retrofit of a lame, block-sized three story box.
Towns!

min-chi-cbus
Capella Tower
Posts: 3131
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 9:19 am

Re: Block E

Postby min-chi-cbus » June 6th, 2012, 1:06 pm

Why does it "have to" be anything? Why can't it just be a $hitty block? I'll take something positive over something negative, and it doesn't have to be mind-blowing for it to be better than what it is now.

John
Capella Tower
Posts: 2254
Joined: May 31st, 2012, 2:06 pm

Re: Block E

Postby John » June 6th, 2012, 1:39 pm

I like your enthusiasm and vision Witruth. I think many people who live here don't realize the tremendous amenities we have in of our city. We definitely need something very tall and bold as a distinguishing feature of our skyline that say " Minneapolis". But I'm not sure if Block E is the right location for it. My feeling is the vacant Nicollet Mall parcel across from the library, 10th and Marquette, or the block between 2nd and 3rd Ave (at 11th street) would be the place for the tallest structure. That said, however, Block E should be redesigned to be something very striking, reinforcing the energy and vitality of the theater district.

Nordeastmpls
City Center
Posts: 39
Joined: June 6th, 2012, 2:53 pm

Re: Block E

Postby Nordeastmpls » June 6th, 2012, 3:01 pm

Keep the movie theater, but turn it into an Art House movie theater and allow it to sell beer. Try to get Lucky Strike to take over the bowling alley vacated by Gameworks. Fill in the remaining street level retail with local restaurants and bars (no chains) and fill in the skyway area with places used by the daytime crowd...coffee shop, dry cleaners, convenience store, lunch places. Top it of with another additional floor or two for the Media offices with a big presence. Finally re-do the entire exterior. Make it bold and unique and open it up to the street with lots of glass and street entrances.

nordeast homer
US Bank Plaza
Posts: 704
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 11:11 am

Re: Block E

Postby nordeast homer » June 6th, 2012, 3:16 pm

The biggest problem with Block E is that it will never live up to any vision that any of us have of a successful, destination block. When this block was most successful it was a book store (Shinders), movie theater(the Shubert), Moby Dick's, McDonalds, a bowling alley and some other dives. Unfortunately I think our best hope is to simply have it as a functional building with some businesses that can stay open for more than a year.

John
Capella Tower
Posts: 2254
Joined: May 31st, 2012, 2:06 pm

Re: Block E

Postby John » June 6th, 2012, 3:36 pm

Nordeastmpls wrote:Keep the movie theater, but turn it into an Art House movie theater and allow it to sell beer. Try to get Lucky Strike to take over the bowling alley vacated by Gameworks. Fill in the remaining street level retail with local restaurants and bars (no chains) and fill in the skyway area with places used by the daytime crowd...coffee shop, dry cleaners, convenience store, lunch places. Top it of with another additional floor or two for the Media offices with a big presence. Finally re-do the entire exterior. Make it bold and unique and open it up to the street with lots of glass and street entrances.
I think this sounds like a very good plan! 8-)

User avatar
spectre000
Union Depot
Posts: 301
Joined: May 31st, 2012, 9:05 pm
Location: Downtown St. Paul

Re: Block E

Postby spectre000 » June 6th, 2012, 3:48 pm

Nordeastmpls wrote:Keep the movie theater, but turn it into an Art House movie theater and allow it to sell beer. Try to get Lucky Strike to take over the bowling alley vacated by Gameworks. Fill in the remaining street level retail with local restaurants and bars (no chains) and fill in the skyway area with places used by the daytime crowd...coffee shop, dry cleaners, convenience store, lunch places. Top it of with another additional floor or two for the Media offices with a big presence. Finally re-do the entire exterior. Make it bold and unique and open it up to the street with lots of glass and street entrances.
Good ideas. I would add it needs a new name as well. The name "Block E" needs to be dropped.

612transplant
Nicollet Mall
Posts: 178
Joined: June 6th, 2012, 7:57 am

Re: Block E

Postby 612transplant » June 6th, 2012, 3:56 pm

Gut some of the inside. Make Block E an "arcade" with levels of retail surrounding an indoor park. Plop 20 stories of Residential or hospitality on top. Sort of like Edinborough Park...

eluko
Metrodome
Posts: 55
Joined: June 2nd, 2012, 9:31 pm

Re: Block E

Postby eluko » June 6th, 2012, 4:17 pm

Minneapolis has lost a lot of architectural gems in the last century and I think rebuilding a couple of them on block E would be quite dope. Block E is the de facto epicenter of the city and I think seeing The Metropolitan Building rebuilt in its place would make a worthy fit. If the casino idea has any life left, scaling it down and putting it inside The Met might give it some extra support.

Wedgeguy
Capella Tower
Posts: 3785
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 6:59 am

Re: Block E

Postby Wedgeguy » June 6th, 2012, 6:31 pm

We have the Graves Hotel that is also on the block so you can't just forget about when it comes down to planning. That is a major money maker for this city. THe 4 levels above Hennepin are the areas that need to be fixed. We need to get back to life on the streets so people see windows with people on the inside. Like City Center there are just too many long blank walls that makes it feel unsafe.

eluko
Metrodome
Posts: 55
Joined: June 2nd, 2012, 9:31 pm

Re: Block E

Postby eluko » June 6th, 2012, 6:53 pm

Wedgeguy wrote:We have the Graves Hotel that is also on the block so you can't just forget about when it comes down to planning.
The original Met was only a quarter block in size.

Didier
Capella Tower
Posts: 2441
Joined: June 3rd, 2012, 10:11 am
Location: MSP

Re: Block E

Postby Didier » June 6th, 2012, 10:30 pm

If there was something realistic that fit writruth's vision I'd be all for it, but when I see examples like a ski slope in Dubai it just strikes me as a lame attempt at creating a tourist destination out of nothing.

I've said this before here, but unless you can move some sort of legitimate cultural draw — think something like the Walker or the Guthrie — putting something "grand" in Block E just for the sake of being grand wouldn't work. It would be the same kind of phony draw that the original Block E was.

In a perfect world I'd like to start over and make at least part of the block (excluding Graves) an open plaza. Since that's not going to happen, I think simply making it into a functional building — entertainment/retail on the street, useful local retail in the skyway and business on top — could definitely be considered a success. It's really not far fetched, either, considering the wealth of thriving entertainment naturally surrounding the block.

John21
Union Depot
Posts: 330
Joined: June 8th, 2012, 8:23 am
Location: 38th Street Station

Re: Block E

Postby John21 » June 8th, 2012, 8:29 am

Anything you can do to open it up will help a lot. Right now it feels like it's in the way of some other place you're trying to get to. I really hope they keep the theater. With the renovation of Target Center assured, it would be great if plans develop with Block E to coincide with that.

Wedgeguy
Capella Tower
Posts: 3785
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 6:59 am

Re: Block E

Postby Wedgeguy » June 9th, 2012, 8:46 pm

eluko wrote:
Wedgeguy wrote:We have the Graves Hotel that is also on the block so you can't just forget about when it comes down to planning.
The original Met was only a quarter block in size.

The Grave sits right on the inside back side of the blocks half so you would be basically building within a foot of hotel windows. Not going to workl! The hotel actually may already be in the east half of the block facing Hennepin and well as the major part of the hotel that is built over the west section of the half block.

Nordeastmpls
City Center
Posts: 39
Joined: June 6th, 2012, 2:53 pm

Re: Block E

Postby Nordeastmpls » June 11th, 2012, 10:58 am

Agreed. I don't think they would get away with adding more than 1, maybe 2 floors to the east side of this block. Anything else would cause problems with the hotel.

Didier
Capella Tower
Posts: 2441
Joined: June 3rd, 2012, 10:11 am
Location: MSP

Re: Block E

Postby Didier » June 11th, 2012, 1:54 pm

As someone who has stayed in Graves, a green roof on Block E would definitely be an improvement as far as the view is concerned.

Wedgeguy
Capella Tower
Posts: 3785
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 6:59 am

Re: Block E

Postby Wedgeguy » June 12th, 2012, 2:41 am

I'd agree with a green roof that is for sure. I could see adding 2 floors to the east half, but they would have to be c shaped to work around the windows on those levels of the Graves. IF they did that they might be able to do a secluded park. Kinda like they did at the Northstar center for the Hotel there. The trees there are over 40 years old and it is a beautiful area of the Hotel.

martykoessel
Landmark Center
Posts: 204
Joined: June 1st, 2012, 9:12 am

Re: Block E

Postby martykoessel » June 13th, 2012, 11:43 am

Here are some thoughts about Block E, just playing around, without particular thought about who might pay for these improvements:

1. Block E Amphitheater

Knock down wall on the old Borders corner to 1 story. Build a stage on top on that corner. Amphitheater seating would step up from that corner toward the block's interior. Replace the exterior walls of the amphitheater, facing Hennepin and 6th streets, with glass panels that can slide open during nice weather. Roof it. This is a mini-downtown Minneapolis version of the Hollywood Bowl, good for all seasons.

2. Star Tribune to Block E

Should the Strib HQ end up moving because of the Vikings stadium, I like someone’s earlier idea of moving it to Block E. Preserve the lovely 1940s central façade and put it on the southern half of Block E’s Hennepin façade (it’s about the right height). Add a news banner scrolling vertically on the Hennepin and 7th corner. Redo the eastern section of the 7th street façade to complement the old Strib façade on Hennepin. BTW, the Strib would not need to occupy all the space behind the new facades. Bob Lux, sans casino, has mentioned adding office space, and there it is.

3. Block E Part 3

The mid-block street-level entrance from Hennepin should lead to a passageway leading all the way through to First Ave., opened as much as possible to the existing skyway level corridor, arcade style. That dead-end entrance to Block E from Hennepin is almost as much a killer for Block E as the banal architecture.


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