Nicollet Mall boosted by opening of two major stores, with more to follow

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The new face of Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis is taking shape, with new retailers opening for business as the street undergoes a $50 million overhaul.

Hot on the heels of Walgreens last month, Sports Authority opened its doors to shoppers in its new downtown location at City Center, on the corner of Nicollet and 7th Street.

The sporting goods retailer will hold a grand opening this Friday, with the Minneapolis Downtown Council saying in a news release its arrival is another example "of the strong shopping presence that is continuing to locate into City Center."

"The hustle and bustle of the city is exciting," Jacob Longwith, Sports Authority District Manager for Minnesota, said in the release, adding that the store's close proximity to the various stadiums and arenas in downtown "is a huge win."

The Star Tribune reports Walgreens recently opened its new "marquee" store across the street from Sports Authority in the former Saks Fifth Avenue location, and Downtown Council president Steve Cramer said what was previously a "lackluster stretch" of the mall is "now filled with new retail."

At 22,000 square feet, the downtown Sports Authority store will be smaller than its suburban outlets, the newspaper notes, but will feature more gear tailored toward runners, bikers and local sports team fans.

The Downtown Council says the retailers' arrivals will be followed next spring by the relocated Saks Off 5th, which will also open in City Center. Restaurant Il Foro also opened in the building this past summer.

The stores might not see the full benefit of their downtown locations right now, given that Nicollet Mall is amidst a major $50 million revamp of the street scene, which according to MinnPost has been hailed as potentially "transformative" by city leaders.

It is expected that construction work will be completed and the street full reopened by 2017.

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