Stimson redevelopment project gets green light

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January 23, 2006 // UPDATED 2:04 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Plans for a new upscale restaurant and Latin nightclub in Hennepin Avenue’s Stimson Building are moving forward after more than a year of delays.

The City Council’s Community Development Committee gave the green light on Jan. 17 for a development group that includes noted Twin Cities restaurateur David Fhima to move forward with redevelopment plans for the Stimson property.

City officials approved the $2.8 million sales agreement in August 2004, but developers needed the Council to sign off on the legal description of the property, which defines its boundaries. The deal was delayed because of a lawsuit by F-Troop, the group that owns First Avenue nightclub, which sits next door to the Stimson property.

The full Council will consider the committee’s decision Friday, Jan. 27.

Before Fhima’s development group submitted its offer on the property in 2004, city officials rejected a $2.5 million offer by Block E developer Dan McCaffery.

The new developers plan to outfit the Stimson Building, which wraps around the Pantages Theater at North 7th Street & Hennepin Avenue South, with a restaurant on the main floor, a nightclub in the basement, a clothier on the second floor and a bar on the rooftop.

City Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), chair of the Community Development Committee, said she’s glad Fhima’s group has control of the site given the types of businesses going into the Block E development. McCaffery recently secured a deal with Hooters to open in a space above Bellanotte, a move criticized by many city officials.

Fhima, a Moroccan-French chef, formerly operated the Mpls. Caf/ in the Laurel Village complex at 11th Street & Hennepin Avenue South. He also has restaurants in St. Paul, Edina and Chicago.

The city paid $11 million to renovate the Pantages Theater and the Stimson building. The theater reopened in 2002. The city will take a loss on the sale, but the project was worthwhile for “clearing blight” and adding “economic vitality” to Hennepin, said George Kissinger, senior project coordinator for the Community Planning and Economic Development department.

The new Fhima restaurant, yet to be named, is expected to open in 2007.

Other developers involved are Tony Barranco, Tony Strauss, Todd Schachtman and David Kutoff.