Reconstruction work begins on Nicollet Mall

Updated: June 23, 2016 - 11:04 am

The Downtown Council also launched a campaign to bolster downtown's core.

Work on Nicollet Mall has officially moved from utility work to rebuilding a year since the project began.

City officials gathered Wednesday to announce that crews will begin to dismantle Nicollet Mall as part of the $50 million reconstruction project, which will overhaul the thoroughfare between Washington Avenue and Grant Street.

With utility work now largely complete, the approximately three-year project moves to ripping apart the street and sidewalks then rebuilding the mall.

This first phase, which also includes streetlight wiring, storm sewer construction and soil installation, begins on Nicollet’s south end and works north. Several blocks are slated to open back up to pedestrians by November of this year.

Two more phases will add light fixtures, trees and a signature “Light Walk” to the project.

Officials released a slightly delayed schedule with all 12 blocks of the project opening back up to pedestrians and buses by the end of 2017. A full completion date is slated for the spring or summer of 2018.

City leaders also addressed the toll construction has taken on downtown residents, office workers and businesses on the mall.

Mayor Betsy Hodges said the investment into Minneapolis is a good problem to have.

“We worked very hard to have this be our problem,” she said. “I appreciate very much your patience as we go through this because I promise you the result is going to be worth it. We are going to have a Nicollet Mall for the 21st century.”

Since construction began Nicollet Mall has seen several closings, from retailers like The Gap, Rush’s Bridal and Sports Authority to restaurants like Vincent A Restaurant and Masa, though construction may not have been a factor. On the other hand, it’s also seen the additions of Saks Off Fifth and Walgreens.

“I think for the most part that businesses understand that right now the sausage is being made, and it’s difficult and disgusting, but at the end of the day you’re going to have a really nice piece of food,” said Council Member Jacob Frey, who ward includes parts of downtown.

Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) speaks at a press conference on Nicollet Mall June 15. Photo by Eric Best
“This is really going to be an urban paradise in every single way,” said Council Member Jacob Frey (Ward 3) of Nicollet Mall at a June 15 press conference. Photo by Eric Best

Development awareness campaign focuses on core

Steve Cramer, president and CEO of the Downtown Council, also announced a new campaign dubbed The Minneapolis Big Build that will bring attention to major construction projects near downtown’s core.

Cramer said the project, a collaboration with the Downtown Improvement District and Meet Minneapolis, is meant to raise awareness of the effect major projects will have on downtown Minneapolis. It’s also an avenue the Council can use to draw potential investors to downtown, he added, even at a time when the North Loop and Downtown East are drawing in several large projects.

“I think it’s a good challenge we have or a good reality we face that downtown is busting out all over, but Nicollet Mall is always going be the core, kind of the heartbeat, of downtown, so this project will help reinforce that,” Cramer said.

The Minneapolis Big Build will feature signage, construction wraps and rendering boards around downtown, as well as an online tracker at

The Minneapolis Big Build, a campaign from the Downtown Council, includes rendering bards on Nicollet Mall. Photo by Eric Best
The Minneapolis Big Build, a campaign from the Downtown Council, includes rendering boards on Nicollet Mall. Photo by Eric Best
  • Peter Dyer

    Hopefully this phase will stop the loss of a driving lane on every east/west artery through downtown. But I doubt it. (It’s made my bus ride home not so fun.)