Block E to be renamed Mayo Clinic Square

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February 4, 2014 // UPDATED 6:46 pm - February 4, 2014
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — Block E will be reborn as Mayo Clinic Square and feature a new sports clinic next to the Timberwolves and Lynx practice facilities planned for the entertainment complex. 

The practice spaces and 20,000-square-foot clinic will go into Block E’s third floor, which was once home to a movie theater. The Mayo Clinic will now be the teams’ primary medical provider.

Rob Moor, CEO of the Timberwolves and Lynx, praised the deal at a news conference Tuesday announcing the partnership.

“This facility is like nothing else in the country. It is not only unique to the NBA and WNBA, but to all of professional sports,” he said.

The new facilities for the basketball teams and the Mayo Clinic are part of a larger $50 million makeover plan for the entertainment complex at 600 Hennepin Ave. Block E’s ownership group Camelot LLC has selected Northeast Minneapolis-based RSP Architects to redesign the exterior and interior of the troubled property. Those renovations are expected to be done early 2015.

Construction work on the new practice spaces and sports clinic, meanwhile, are expected to be done by the end of 2015.

The goal of the redesign is to shed Block E’s image as a problem property.

“We want to transform Block E into a modern and positive contributor to downtown’s built environment,” said David Serrano, a senior associate with RSP Architects. “Our goal with the redesign is to clearly state Block E has changed. We want to have an energy and elegance that will allow it to look great day and night.”

No public subsidies are planned for the project. The new Timberwolves and Lynx practice spaces are expected to cost roughly $20 million and the build-out for the Mayo Clinic sports clinic $5 to $7 million.

The Block E owners said they are on track to pay off the tax-increment financing balance of $13 million to the city in 2019 — seven years ahead of schedule. The new owners purchased the property in 2010.

The entertainment complex opened in 2002 and was financed in part by a $39.1 million subsidy from taxpayers. It has seen many tenants close over the years.

With a new redesign and anchor tenants in place, the crew managing the building now said they are confident they can revitalize the property.

“We’re very excited about out new partnership with the Mayo Clinic and the Timberwolves/Lynx,” said Phillip Jaffe of Provident Real Estate Ventures, the asset manager for Camelot. “We care deeply about the long-term vitality of downtown Minneapolis and have worked extremely hard to find a redevelopment plan that will position this property as a high-energy destination.”

Vacant restaurant spaces at street level will be marketed for new marquee restaurant tenants and new office tenants will be recruited for roughly 120,000 square feet of space at street and skyway level.

Block E’s existing tenants — Kieran’s Irish Pub, The Shout House Dueling Pianos, Starbucks and Jimmy John’s — will remain and be part of the new Mayo Clinic Square.

The skyway level will also feature a Timberwolves and Lynx merchandize store along with interactive spaces for fans. The training facilities will be active throughout the year and serve as a home for youth clinics when the teams aren’t using the practice areas.

The sports clinic will provide a range of medical services for amateur and elite athletes, including physical rehabilitation, sports-specific skills programs and injury prevention strategies, among other things.

Mayor Betsy Hodges, who was a critic of Block E when it first opened, said she’s excited about the “commitment for significant new private investment in Block E from two great Minnesota businesses.”

“I’m hopeful that when it is revitalized, this structure on the heart of Hennepin Avenue will once again become a major draw downtown,” she said.

New Third Ward City Council Member Jacob Frey echoed Hodges. “Mayo is well known for curing patients. Now as the major tenant of Block E, hopefully they can cure an ailing block,” he said.

Hennepin Theatre District CEO Tom Hoch said he’s looking forward to partnering with the new tenants at 600 Hennepin on the plan to raise the profile of the arts on the avenue with a new Cultural District.

“I know that our Cultural District partners want a street-level presence at this site that is artful and engaging to all members of our community every day and night,” Hoch said. “That’s a tough assignment, but it can — it must be done.” 

Reach Sarah McKenzie at smckenzie@mnpubs.com and on Twitter @smckenzie21

At a glance: Mayo Clinic Square

What: Block E has been rebranded as the Mayo Clinic Square

Where: 600 Hennepin Ave.

Anchor tenants: The building’s third floor will have a new training facility for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx along with a new Mayo Clinic sports clinic

Timeline: Exterior and interior renovations for the building are expected to be done early 2015; the basketball training center and medical clinic should be ready for use by end of 2015