COMMUNITY NOTEBOOK // The Cowles Center celebrates grand opening

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September 26, 2011
By: Jeremy Zoss and Drew Kerr
Jeremy Zoss and Drew Kerr

HENNEPIN AVENUE — After a lengthy development process that required moving an entire building, The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts has opened. Designed as the flagship for dance in the region, the Cowles Center includes the 500-seat Goodale Theater, The Hennepin Center for the Arts and the newly constructed U.S. Bank Atrium.

After a summer-long program that brought dance performance to the streets of Minneapolis, The Cowles Center opened with grand opening festivities on Sept. 9–11. The inaugural performance, “Among the Stars,” brought together regional and national talent for weekend performances.

Local dance groups like the James Sewell Ballet and Zenon Dance Company shared the stage with national dance superstars like Savion Glover. Based on audience reaction, the highlight of the show was a piece called “Caught” by choreographer David Parsons, in which dancer Clifton Brown timed his leaps perfectly with the flashes of a strobe light so he appeared to be flying and levitating around the stage.

The Cowles Center’s inaugural season runs through June 2012 and includes performances by groups such as Ragamala Dance, vocal group Cantus, Minnesota Dance Theatre and many more. Tickets for many performances start at $10.

A vacant property on Plymouth Avenue could soon see new life

NORTH LOOP — Steve Minn, vice president at Lupe Development Partners, said on Sept. 13 that the company remains interested in building a 10,000-square-foot commercial space at 129 Plymouth Ave. N. despite the fact that a previous proposal to redevelop the site has lingered for several years.

The property was obtained by the state in the late 1960s to make way for a highway that was never built.

Lupe Development LLC was the only developer to bid on the state-owned property when the city sought redevelopment bids in 2008, and had originally proposed a building that would hold a combination of retail and service businesses.

The redevelopment effort lingered, but city officials gave their approval for the property to be sold to Lupe Development for $208,000 on Aug. 23. A development agreement has not been completed, however, and previous land-use approvals will have to be reauthorized.

Minn said he would not discuss what could be held in the new space until the sale was finalized and would not predict when he expected it to get done, or when construction could begin.

“I’m not making any commitments until I get a redevelopment agreement,” he said.  

Lupe Development LLC is the same company that built Standard Heating and Air Conditioning, which is located across the street at 130 Plymouth Ave. N.  

Minn said the company has sought to obtain the vacant property as a way to complete the redevelopment of the intersection. (For a map of development projects planned for downtown and NE, go to and click on “Properties in Play.”)

Brave New Workshop opens new theater

HENNEPIN AVENUE — The Brave New Workshop has moved into its new home. The longest-running theatre troupe in the country has moved into its new downtown location at 824 Hennepin Ave. and will open its doors to the public on Sept. 29.

The first performance in the new space, “Dudley: Rigged for Laughter,” is a sketch comedy about Brave New Workshop founder Dudley Riggs. Originally produced at the History Theatre, the show will run through Oct. 8. An official grand opening celebration for the theatre will be held on Nov. 4, which will feature the debut of Brave New Workshop’s annual holiday show. This year’s show is entitled “Miracle at 824 Hennepin Ave: Skyway to the Manger Zone.”

“We are excited to have a facility that matches the world-class quality of our brand and products,” Brave New workshop owner John Sweeney said in a statement. “Since 1958 we have been creating great comedy in spaces that were not necessarily designed for that purpose and although we love our 2605 Hennepin Avenue location in Uptown, we were outgrowing it. Our new location will take the guest experience to the next level. Our new home will wow our guests as much as our comedy does, just without as many unidentified smells or leaks! Inaugurating the 824 theatre with a show about Dudley honors the theatre and the man who started it.” 

The future of Nicollet Mall celebrated with poetry

NICOLLET MALL — The 12 winning poems for the Nicollet Mall poetry contest organized by the Downtown Improvement District have been placed on steel signs in the garden area of the reconstructed stretch of Nicollet Mall between 3rd and 4th streets.

The stretch of Nicollet Mall between the two streets is an area that has needed a lot of sidewalk repairs. The granite sidewalk pavers have been worn down from years of traffic and winter freeze and thaw damage. The repairs replaced the damaged sidewalk section with concrete slabs.

Eight new trees were planted and several areas have been turned into garden spaces. A major piece of public art has also been reinstalled on the mall after years in storage: Kinji Akagawa’s “Enjoyment of Nature” was originally built in 1990, but large portions had been removed and placed in storage after sustaining damage.

The City of Minneapolis and local businesses will soon begin a public process to redesign and reconstruct Nicollet Mall for future generations. The original granite pavers replaced during the interim repairs will be stored while the plan is developed.

Fruits of the City launches tree-planting campaign in Northeast

SHERIDAN — Fruits of the City, a program of The Minnesota Project, kicked off a new tree planting initiative on Saturday, Sept. 17 at a community garden in Northeast.

The program aims to harvest 36,000 pounds of fruit from local trees for donation to area food shelves.

The planting on Sept. 17 took place at Garden of Eden, a community garden at the Masjid Al Imam Islamic center at 1429 2nd St. NE. Several fruit trees were planted, including apple, pear and plum trees. The Islamic center will donate some of the fruit to The Little Kitchen Food Shelf and the rest to community members in need.

“It will all by used by people who need it,” said Heidi Coe of The Minnesota Project.

Author Sarah Stonich kicks off NE Library reading series

HOLLAND — Northeast resident and author Sarah Stonich will serve as the first speaker for a new series of readings featuring local authors to be held at the Northeast Library.

Stonich is the author of “These Granite Islands,” “Vacationland” and “Shelter,” and was featured in “Fiction on a Stick,” an anthology featuring a cast of well-known Minnesota writers.  

Her appearance at the Northeast Library, 2200 Central Ave. NE, is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free and no reservations are required.

Organizers of Stonich’s appearance say it is the first of several they hope to coordinate in celebration of the library’s recent renovations.

The library re-opened in March after a 16-month overhaul that added space, created new areas for kids and teens and brought computers and wireless internet to the facility.