Borders courts potential tenants for Block E space

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January 22, 2007 // UPDATED 10:58 am - April 26, 2007
By: Michelle Bruch
Michelle Bruch

Borders Books & Music is advertising an opportunity to sublease the two-level store at Block E.

No particular rate is requested, but “all serious offers will be considered,” according to the Griffin Cos. flyer advertising 24,142 square feet with minimum divisible square footage of 12,000 square feet. Borders’ lease expires on Jan. 31, 2023, according to the ad.

“We have asked a broker to take a look at maybe subleasing it,” said Ann Binkley, spokeswoman for Borders Group Inc. “We’ve asked them to see if there’s any interest. ... As of right now, the store is staying right where it is, but it is an option that we’re looking into for profitability reasons. In retail, that’s normal.”

Binkley did not discuss specific reasons for the Downtown store’s potential move and said the company recently opened a store in the Rosedale Center.

“This is just one we’re looking at, and there are many different reasons we look — maybe the location, maybe we don’t need as much space,” she said.

Borders has operated as an anchor tenant at Block E since the complex opened in the fall of 2002. The $148.6 million project was funded with a $39.1 million contribution from the city.

Binkley said a sublease of the entire store or a portion of it would depend on interest in the property.

“They would prefer to do the entire space,” Binkley said. “It all has to do with what we’re paying and what would be feasible.”

Sue Bonin, property manager of Block E, referred questions to Borders and declined comment.

When contacted by the Downtown Journal, store employees and a regional manager said they were not aware of an advertised sublease.

Griffin Co. Sales and Leasing Associate Suzette Rettinger said the company received the listing about a month ago.

Dario Anselmo, a member of the Warehouse District Business Association, said he would not be completely surprised by a sublease of Borders, saying 6th and Hennepin may not be the ideal bookstore location. He said proposals for converting Hennepin Avenue into a two-way street might help retail traffic in the area, however.

Andrea Christenson, a Downtown resident and broker who specializes in retail for Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, said she frequently shops at Borders and said she was surprised the store is advertising a sublease.

“But retail on Hennepin Avenue — it’s an entertainment district,” she said. “There is a mental block during the working day about going over there. In Downtown, two blocks is like five miles in the suburbs.”

Christenson said last summer’s shooting incident near the store may have impacted retail traffic, as well as the location of the store entryway that can be blocked by people waiting for the bus.

Carletta Sweet, chair of the Downtown Minneapolis Neighborhood Association (DMNA), said she hopes a tenant of comparable stature moves in.

“We need to keep that area vital and attractive to people coming Downtown for entertainment,” she said.

Andy Hauer, chair of the DMNA Land Use Committee, said in the event of a sublease he would prefer another bookstore or retail tenant that counterbalances the prevalence of entertainment venues on Hennepin Avenue.