Construction at Calhoun Square will start in August

The first visible Calhoun Square construction work will begin Aug. 4 on the parking ramp, kicking off nearly two years of renovation that will result in a new mall and, stakeholders hope, a revitalized Uptown.

“The plans are gorgeous and I can’t wait for the first smack of the jackhammer,” said Darrel Besikof, who has owned Bay Street shoes in the Hennepin Avenue & Lake Street mall since it opened more than 20 years ago.

Calhoun Square General Manager Gayle Siegler said “selective interior demolition” was scheduled to begin in July, but none of that work would be visible.

The parking ramp renovation — which will increase parking capacity from 485 spaces to 731 — is scheduled to take six months. Only valet parking will be available during that time, at the same hourly daytime rate as the ramp. Valet parking after 5 p.m. will be $7.

Renovation of the mall itself is scheduled to begin sometime before the ramp is complete, Siegler said.  

The retail renovation is scheduled to take 18 months and will include a completely remodeled interior with more store space and two public seating areas, redesigned entrances with a “red carpet” motif made of brick pavers, a public plaza along Girard Avenue and a larger public gathering space outside the Hennepin Avenue entrance.

A residential component planned as a later phase of the project calls for a seven-story, 84-foot building along Lake Street to the East of the mall and a five-story, 62-foot building at Hennepin Avenue and 31st Street. The buildings would contain a total of 108 residential units. The type of units has not been decided.

The Minneapolis Planning Commission approved the development plans March 31 after developers presented several revisions.

Calhoun Square’s long-awaited makeover had been stalled for years as the property changed hands and the housing market took a turn for the worse.

Minnetonka-based Capital Growth Madison Marquette manages the property for owner BlackRock, a New York-based investment firm that bought the mall for $47.3 million last August. BlackRock purchased Calhoun Square from Principal Financial Group, which opted not to follow through with a different city-approved redevelopment plan for the center.

Along with getting construction started, Calhoun Square management has launched a fresh new website.

“It was revamped to give us a new image and to give us more versatility so we can have the ability to give everybody updated messages on changes to the center,” Siegler said.  

New tenants have not been announced yet, but Siegler said the existing tenants would not be moved anymore, except those who are awaiting a permanent new location in the mall, such as Besikof, who will eventually move to a 50 percent larger space.

Though some tenants are expecting slower business during construction, they’re willing to tough it out to be part of the finished product. Jeffery Gauss, who runs a magnet shop called Magnetic Originals in the mall, said he’s expecting slow traffic at first, but he’s hoping the revamp will end up making Calhoun Square and Uptown the hotspot he remembers from days past.

“I hope it turns out being what it was 20 years ago,” he said.

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