Block E rebound: New plans, new tenants, new hopes

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Block E, the troublesome downtown address that for decades was plagued by urban blight and then became the site of a failed retail complex, will become a training facility for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx.

The Star Tribune reports the pro basketball teams have signed a letter of intent for the property in the 600 block of Hennepin Avenue. Finance & Commerce reported that a statement from Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Rob Moore said the new practice space, combined with the upcoming renovation of the Target Center, will “result in a state of the art facility unlike anything else in the NBA or WNBA.”

The news about the practice facilites accompanies an announcement about a larger rebound for Block E. The building renovation will add new restaurants and office tenants in 120,000 square feet of space that will be available at skyway and street levels.

The Business Journal reports that exterior and interior improvements will make it easy to access the property and comfortably navigate once inside, according to a release from Camelot LLC, the owner of the property.

"Our goal is to make Block E the ‘place to be,’ with a modern classic design that people will truly enjoy," Camelot principal Phillip Jaffe said. FOX 9 has photos of the artist renderings.

Cost of the renovation was not spelled out, but the property owners said they will not seek public financing or subsidies. The developer said it is on track to repay the remaining tax-increment financing of $13 million that was used to develop the property by 2019, seven years ahead of schedule.

The building’s exterior and interior core renovation is expected to be completed by 2014. All current tenants, which include Kieran’s Irish Pub, The Shout House Dueling Pianos, Starbucks and Jimmy John’s will remain in the space.

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