Construction will start this week on the 200,000-sfhotel,entertainment and retail facility that will turn oneof the toughestblocks on Hennepin Avenue into one ofthe most attractive, say cityofficials.The properties, scheduled to be completed in twoyears,will feature anchor tenants such as a 255-roomRenaissance hotel byMarriott, a 17-screenstadium-seating movie complex by CrownTheaters andGameWorks, a Steven Spielberg venture thatcombinesstate-of the-art interactive entertainment with foodanddrink.

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City officials envision Block E as a critical linkbetweenMinneapolis' warehouse district and Downtownretail center, whichthey say will strengthen its arts andentertainment district.GameWorks and the moviecomplex will also attract families, a highprioritywith city officials."Block E now stands for EntertainmentandExcitement," says Daniel McCaffery, president ofChicago-basedMcCaffery Interests.

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The recent signing of GameWorks has helped speed up leasing therest of the retail space in thecomplex, McCaffery notes. Financingfor the retailportion of the Block E project will be providedbyULLICO, the Union Labor Life Insurance Co. ofWashington, DC andan advisor to union pensionfunds.

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The Renaissance Hotel will be financed by AssociatedBankMinnesota, based in Green Bay, WI. The hotelwill also offer8,000-sf of meeting and ballroomspaces.The project, which isreceiving assistance from theMinneapolis Community DevelopmentAgency, will alsoinclude underground parking for 500 vehicles.

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