COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK // Hennepin Theatre Trust announces New Century Theatre

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June 20, 2011 // UPDATED 8:53 am - June 20, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch
Jeremy Zoss and Michelle Bruch

HENNEPIN AVENUE — The Hennepin Theatre Trust is opening another theater this fall — the New Century Theatre, a 300-seat performance space in City Center.

The new theatre space is named for the Century Theatre, a venue that once stood on the site but was demolished to make room for City Center. According to Hennepin Theatre Trust President and CEO Tom Hoch, the name was chosen to recognize Hennepin Avenue’s past and its future. Hoch sees the theatres as a vital part of the revitalization of Hennepin Avenue and Downtown.

“All along Hennepin, from the Walker to the Library, we want to have a variety of ways of engaging the people of Minnesota,” he said.

Located inside City Center, The New Century Theatre will focus on the types of shows currently offered at the Hennepin Stages, which was recently purchased by Brave New Workshop. Popular shows such as “Don’t Hug Me Christmas” will make the move to The New Century, as will the Hennepin Theatre Trust’s educational programming and other local productions. “I routinely meet with people looking for space for show,” said Hoch. “We really needed a new space to support local productions, as well as continuing our presence on Hennepin Avenue.”

The theatre will also serve as a meeting space for the Hennepin Theatre Trust, which will also relocate its offices to an adjacent space in City Center. The offices will move over at the end of this month, before construction on the performance space kicks off in earnest. Hoch hopes to have The New Century Theatre open by Labor Day.


YouthLink sets students on a path to a brighter future

The beginning of summer is full of high school graduation ceremonies. On June 8, one such ceremony was held on the small green lawn outside the nondescript building at 41 N. 12th St., and it was a little different than the typical graduation.

Each of the roughly 40 students in attendance had earned a high school diploma or GED thanks to YouthLink, the nonprofit organization dedicated to battling youth homelessness.

YouthLink functions as a central location for homeless and at-risk youth, offering food, shelter, clean clothing, health care and other essential services. By bringing representatives from other organizations under its roof, YouthLink works to provide young people the tools they need in order to work toward a better future — including education.

During the graduation ceremony, YouthLink executive director Heather Huseby stressed the importance of education in creating opportunities for the future, a theme echoed by keynote speaker Roxanne Battle Morrison. The television personality stressed the importance of working hard to attain the dreams that every young person has for their future.

But clearly, the speaker the students were most excited to hear was Ashley Turner, their fellow YouthLink graduate.

Turner shared the story of how her GED tutor kept her on track with her studying, even when she didn’t want to. The students erupted into cheers and applause when Turner shared her plans to enroll in Globe University to study criminal justice.

After she ended her remarks, Turner and the other students walked across the grass to receive their diplomas, each with a huge smile on their face. The students had found places to live, jobs and friends. And now they could add another huge accomplishment to that list.

For more information about YouthLink and its services, visit

Developers focusing on apartment projects

NORTH LOOP — The Cameron Building at 756 4th St. will become “funky, high-design market-rate apartments,” said Kit Richardson of developer Schafer Richardson.

The small project will add 42–44 rental units to a historic building when it’s finished, and Schafer Richardson is looking at exclusively using geothermal heating and cooling for the project.

According to Richardson, the project is being made possible with both federal and state historic tax credits. As a small project, without both credits in place, the apartment development would be economically unfeasible.

Only a few years ago, apartment complex developments were unfeasible for a different reason: the condo boom. Now, with rental availability near historic lows, apartment development is back in style.

In the North Loop, Greco Real Estate Development is looking to transform the Holden building at 730 Washington Avenue N. into 130 market-rate apartments and 20,000 square feet of retail space. Like the Cameron Building project, a combination of state and federal historic tax credits will likely finance part of the project. Another apartment project has been proposed for the 500 block of Main St. SE, a 181-unit project called Mill and Main.

Perhaps the most ambitious apartment project of them all is a proposal to turn the Soo Line building at 501 Marquette in apartments, relocating the largest tenant, Canadian Pacific Railway, into neighboring One Financial Plaza.

Cedar Lake Trail’s link to riverfront opens

After nearly 20 years of construction, the Cedar Lake Regional Trail is complete. The nation’s first “bicycle freeway” connects the western suburbs to West River Parkway. The final mile through Downtown was finished at the end of May, although the grand opening ceremonies were held on June 14.

The trail connects to several other major biking trails such as the Kenilworth Trail, which in turn connects to the Midtown Greenway Trail, the Southwest LRT Trail and the trails around Lake Calhoun.

Those commuters who use the trail to come into the city in the morning now have a new way to freshen up in the morning. Located off the Cedar Lake Trail, Ramps A and B of the ABC Ramps now feature new shower facilities for cyclists, as does the Courthouse Ramp. Bicycle parking at the ramps is free, although there is a fee for shower and locker usage. Visit or for more information.

Minneapolis asks Karma nightclub to close for 90 days

WAREHOUSE DISTRICT — Because of ongoing problems in and around the club, the City of Minneapolis has declared the Karma nightclub a public nuisance and asked the venue to close for 90 days. The city is also evaluating Karma’s application for renewal of its liquor license and will issue a recommendation to the City Council soon.

Karma, 315 1st Ave. N., has been been the source of 165 police calls since January 2010. Crimes committed in and around Karma include felony and misdemeanor assaults, robbery and other disturbances. A press release from the city mentions that amongst those assaulted at the club are police officers.

The city is recommending that the club close immediately for 90 days as part of a nuisance-abatement plan. The club was first served with a Notice of Public Nuisance on May 5, to which the club responded with a letter that addressed each of the 15 issues the city raised as reason for the public nuisance declaration.

Karma declined to comment for this story, but a representative for the club issued a statement that the club has no intention to close.

However, several changes will reportedly be made immediately to address safety concerns. Among those changes are a complete removal of glassware from the club, electronic scanning of photo IDS and more visible clothing for security.

The club is also asking that off-duty police officers working as security have either gang or violent offender training. Karma is also considering ending its 18-plus Sunday night event, which the police have cited as one contributing problem.

Developers pitching ideas for old Grain Belt office building site

SHERIDAN — Developers are lining up to talk to the Sheridan Neighborhood Organization (SNO) about their ideas for 13th & Marshall, the site of the Grain Belt office building and the old Orth Brewery. The city is trying to sell off the land for redevelopment.

Representatives from Everwood Development and Diversified Equities Corp. came to a Sheridan neighborhood meeting in May. Everwood is a housing developer, and the company is looking to build new office space and about 170 apartments.  

Diversified Equities Corp. built the Stonehouse Square Apartments at 215 Broadway St. NE, and it is working on a market study to help determine what to build.

“I’m keeping an open mind until we get a better picture of what the market is like,” said President Jon Dickerson.

Sheridan neighbors have plenty of ideas about what they would like to see on the prominent corner. They have suggested short buildings, attractive finishes, green space, public art and a plaza over the historic brewery site. Some would like to see a hotel in the old Grain Belt office building.

“SNO has traditionally been strongly against adding rental to our disproportionately high rental neighborhood,” said SNO President Jenny Fortman in an e-mail. She said market research seems to indicate that rental is the most viable option, however, and residents are willing to keep an open mind.

“That big vacant lot is not helping anyone, and rental can always be converted to ownership in the future,” she said. “Marshall Street is heavily used by commuters. A well-designed building, perhaps with retail, could help draw them into the area.”

Northeast Armory served a key role in helping tornado victims

NORTHEAST PARK — Long before tornadoes hit North Minneapolis, the city had targeted the Northeast Armory as one of several spots that could provide emergency shelter, should the need arrive.

So when the tornadoes struck on May 22, all it took was a quick phone call to the National Guard to open up the building to victims.

The city’s health department and the Red Cross had about an hour to prepare before guests started arriving at 1025 Broadway St. NE.

“People were really traumatized at this point,” said Pat Harrison, the city Health Department’s director of research and program development. “Many of them had been outdoors. One had grabbed a baby away from a window, and just then the roof went.”

The Armory normally serves as the base for a National Guard headquarters unit and chemical unit that focuses on chemical, biological and radiological agent detection.

Workers transformed the Armory’s gymnasium into sleeping quarters, with enough cots on the first night for about 70 families and lots of children.

Harrison saw mothers with one-week-old babies recovering from C-sections, and others who needed medication for asthma or diabetes. A few people had watched a tree collapse onto a car windshield, killing the person inside.

“It was an incredibly vulnerable population,” Harrison said. “Many people arrived with only the clothes on their backs, and holding the hands of their kids. … For many people, the realities of their loss hadn’t totally set in yet.”

New pinwheel garden in NE

HOLLAND — If you missed the plethora of pinwheels at the State Capitol last year, it’s hard to miss them this year at the corner of Lowry and Central avenues.

The pinwheel is the national symbol for child abuse prevention, and the East Minneapolis Exchange Club recently planted about 700 of them in a garden tended by Edison High School students.

“What it represents is that every child deserves a bright future,” said Exchange Club Member Sue O’Reilly. “The pinwheel shining in the sun reflects that future. It reminds people that there is hope.”

Child abuse prevention has been a focus of the National Exchange Clubs since 1979. This is the first year the Northeast chapter has planted pinwheels; the 55-year-old club raises money to support Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota.

“It’s such an important issue,” O’Reilly said. “Without strong children and strong families,
we can’t have strong communities.”