Neighbors get look at redeveloped Calhoun Square

Jay Scott, principal of North American Properties, brought a preliminary draft of the $75 million Calhoun Square redevelopment project to the CARAG neighborhood board Oct. 19. Neighbors filled the room to get a peak at illustrations and ask questions about the project North American Properties acquired the complex this spring, along with all buildings on the 3000 block of Hennepin, the vacant lot north of the parking ramp and Lake Street buildings between Hennepin and Girard. Scott said talks are still underway to purchase the Music-Go-Round building, 1301 W. Lake St.

The illustration he presented showed a block-long retail complex with an additional story-and-a-half on the parking ramp and 60 housing units along West 31st Street and on the corner of Lake Street & Girard Avenue.

Scott said North American would demolish the buildings that contain the Lotus restaurant, 3037 Hennepin Ave. S. and City Image Salon, 3049 Hennepin Ave. S. and as well as those housing The Great Frame Up, 1407 W. Lake St. and the Passage to India Restaurant, 1401 W. Lake St.

He said the reconfiguration would add up to 100,000 square feet to the complex.

Leasing agent Anne Knuth said North American wants to lure retailers who currently have no or one Minneapolis stores.

Scott has talked with existing retailers such as Express about expanding. Knuth said that she’s talked to Borders about expanding into a two-level bookstore, but nothing has been finalized.

Scott said he doesn’t see a need to increase Calhoun Square’s restaurant or entertainment businesses, and will instead focus on retail and bringing more people to the complex during the day.

He said that would be done by adding housing and office space on the center’s upper levels. Knuth also said a new mall entrance east of Figlio’s could boost traffic in tucked-away areas the complex’s east side. "The objective is really to open the mall itself," Scott said. "Right now, it’s a very heavy presence on the corner."

Residents questioned Scott and Knuth about the taller ramp and potential noise increases. Some also expressed concern about housing that could rise as high as four stories. Scott said the plan is a work in progress and there’s plenty of time to change it and incorporate new ideas.

Scott said the illustration will be the first of many, and said he’d return to the neighborhood for more discussion. Once a final concept is polished, construction would hopefully begin in early 2005, beginning with the parking ramp he said. Scott said the project would be done in phases spread over the next three to five years.