As Nicollet Mall finally reopens, what's changed since 2015?

A lot of retailers have exited since work started, though some new ones have arrived.

It's been a long time coming, but Nicollet Mall has finally reopened after its $50 million makeover.

The main thoroughfare through downtown Minneapolis is now replete with 250 new trees, LED lighting, new concrete walkways and the city's largest display of public artwork outside of the city's Sculpture Garden.

It marks the end of 2 1/2 years of construction that saw a mile-long stretch of the avenue ripped up for electrical and sewage work, rebuilt with new paving and the aforementioned public space improvements.

It's also undergone a rebranding exercise so it will no longer be referred to as "Nicollet Mall," but instead be referred to as "On Nicollet."

But the construction period took a toll on retailers and restaurants trading on Nicollet, with the retail offering along the street looking markedly different now from what it did three years ago.

Some of these, particularly the smaller locations, cited the ongoing construction as one of the reasons why they were leaving the street, while others were victim of difficult retail conditions nationally.

Here's a look at what Nicollet Mall has lost and gained since the work started.

What's gone

Macy's – The big one. Macy's closed its store in the famous former Dayton's building earlier this year, as part of a wider cost-cutting effort that saw 100 stores close nationally.

Barnes & Noble – The bookseller chain left its prominent corner location in May, with the Star Tribune reporting it was looking for a smaller space.

Sports Authority – The sports retailer closed its Nicollet Mall location in spring 2016, but it had nothing to do with the construction. It closed all of its stores after filing for bankruptcy.

Gap – Gap's store at the IDS Center was one of a wave of closures it announced nationally in July 2015.

Jos. A. Bank – The men's clothing retailer closed its Nicollet location in June 2016, two years after the company was bought out by Men's Wearhouse.

Vincent – The critically-acclaimed French restaurant called it quits after 14 years on the street at the end of 2015, with chef Vincent Francoual saying it was more of a life decision than a business one.

Masa – The Mexican restaurant owned by the D'Amico group shut its doors in October 2015.

Ichiban – It had occupied its spot on the corner of Nicollet and Grant for 36 years before closing in July 2016.

Dunn Bros. – The Nicollet Mall construction and the slashing of 1,500 jobs at Target's head office were cited as the reasons for this coffee shop closure at Nicollet and 9th.

Ling & Louie's – Viking legend John Randle's Japanese experiment closed towards the end of 2016, but he reopened it as "Randle's" earlier this year.

The new arrivals

Nordstrom Rack – A huge boost for the newly revamped Nicollet Mall was getting Nordstrom Rack, which opened this past September.

Saks Off Fifth – This is a bit of a cheat, as Saks did technically close its Nicollet Mall store in early 2015 – before the street closed – only to reopen just over a year later in the City Center building. 

Walgreen's – Again, not so much a new arrival as an upgrade, with Walgreen's moving into bigger space at the vacated Saks Off Fifth location from its smaller, former Nicollet Mall store.

Haskell's – The owners of the Haskell's liquor store took over the former Dunn Bros. space to open a wine bar and eatery earlier this year. 

Hopcat – This bar restaurant with more than 100 beers on tap opened in the spring at Nicollet and 5th.

Randle's – As mentioned above, Ling & Louie's closed only to be reopened by John Randle a few months later.

YMCA Downtown – It's not quite finished yet, but in early 2018 the new YMCA center will open at the Gaviidae Building at Nicollet and 6th.

The Dayton's renovation – OK this is still a long while coming, but signs are pointing towards an all-singing, all-dancing renovated Dayton's building that will include floor- and skyway-level retail space, and an array of food and entertainment options.

Refreshed and updated

YWCA Downtown – The YWCA building underwent a $12.5 million facelift that was completed last year, and now features a fully renovated fitness center.

Target – The retailer's prominent Nicollet Mall location was one of the first upgraded as part of a nationwide renovation project – getting a $10 million facelift as well as a new Target Liquor store next door.

And one that was saved

La Belle Crepe – The owners of this creperie announced in October that it planned on closing after saying the Nicollet Mall construction cost it nearly $200,000. However, planners behind the Super Bowl effort stepped in and convinced them to stay open, giving them a sneak peak of how their block will look when the Super Bowl rolls into town in February.

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