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MINNEAPOLIS-A block that for years has sat virtually vacant inDowntown Minneapolis is about to be redeveloped into amulti-use entertainment complex.

Construction will start this week on the 200,000-sfhotel, entertainment and retail facility that will turn oneof the toughest blocks on Hennepin Avenue into one ofthe most attractive, say city officials.The properties, scheduled to be completed in twoyears, will feature anchor tenants such as a 255-roomRenaissance hotel by Marriott, a 17-screenstadium-seating movie complex by Crown Theaters andGameWorks, a Steven Spielberg venture that combinesstate-of the-art interactive entertainment with foodand drink.

City officials envision Block E as a critical linkbetween Minneapolis’ warehouse district and Downtownretail center, which they say will strengthen its arts andentertainment district. GameWorks and the moviecomplex will also attract families, a high prioritywith city officials.”Block E now stands for Entertainment andExcitement,” says Daniel McCaffery, president ofChicago-based McCaffery Interests.

The recent signing of GameWorks has helped speed up leasing the rest of the retail space in thecomplex, McCaffery notes. Financing for the retailportion of the Block E project will be provided byULLICO, the Union Labor Life Insurance Co. ofWashington, DC and an advisor to union pensionfunds.

The Renaissance Hotel will be financed by AssociatedBank Minnesota, based in Green Bay, WI. The hotelwill also offer 8,000-sf of meeting and ballroomspaces.The project, which is receiving assistance from theMinneapolis Community Development Agency, will alsoinclude underground parking for 500 vehicles.

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