Calhoun Square renovation nearing completion

Calhoun Square is nearly finished with a $20 million, two-year renovation that has expanded the mall’s common area, increased outdoor dining, added parking space and made the building look more attractive, inside and out.

The mall’s facelift is only one part of the change at the Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue intersection. New York-based investment management firm BlackRock, the mall’s owner, has hired a new leasing and management company that is working on filling out the mall with retailers and restaurants.

The new leasing and management firm, Jones Lang LaSalle, has a portfolio of 300 malls, strip centers, mixed-use centers and other retail space. The Chicago-based company also manages the Rosedale shopping center.  

Store owners new and old are excited about the renovation and looking forward to its completion.

“There is incredible inertia with it right now. I’ve got to tell you … I am there every day, and I am pinching myself,” said Greg Hoyt, the mall’s newest tenant and owner of Bull Run Coffee Bar, which is slated for an October opening. “I think it’s such an amazing opportunity we have to do this at Calhoun Square today.”

Kitchen Window, a 21-year tenant of Calhoun Square, has tested its customers’ loyalty over the past year-and-a-half during construction that required shoppers to make adjustments while the store moved to its new space.

But, co-owner Doug Humoeller said, his customers stayed true. Now he’s enjoying a bigger and better new store — with an expanded kitchen for cooking lessons and an outdoor patio on the second level for grilling lessons — inside of a mall that is brighter, busier and gaining momentum.

“We love the redevelopment. It needed to be done 5 to 7 years ago, but ultimately the property is much nicer,” Humoeller said.

Included in the $20 million renovation:

— Construction of two new levels to the parking ramp just east of the mall on Lake Street. Now five-levels tall, parking space has increased from 520 to 735 stalls. They’ve also beautified the ramp, adding glass-encased staircases on the outside. An automated payment system has been installed allowing for easier access.

— Increased outdoor dining with the renovation of what was once Girard Avenue between 31st Street and Lake Street. The street is now a walkway and Chiang Mai Thai and Famous Daves have tables outside.

— Widened sidewalks along Hennepin Avenue. In some areas, the sidewalks will be 23 feet from the street to the mall, allowing for more walking room and for more patio space.  

— More lighting inside the mall. Adding a large glass atrium on Hennepin Avenue and widening the common area, the renovation has made the mall brighter. One complaint about the mall pre-renovation was that it was too dark, General Manager Ken Seifert said.

— More community space inside. The common area in the middle of the mall has been expanded and now offers several tables. This will allow people to relax, sip coffee and socialize while shopping, said Operations Manager Jackie Knight. She also said the mall will use the expanded common area to hold art fairs.

Now what?

Seifert said the mall is working with prospective tenants to fill the roughly 40,000 square feet of space that will be available when the renovation ends this fall.

He said he expects one or two more “anchor” tenants, meaning larger retailers. He couldn’t specify the prospective tenants, but said the mall is targeting retailers that will make their new space special and fit in with the area, he said.

As the new leasing company fills space this fall it will complete Phase II of the renovation. But it’s unclear when Phase III will begin.

Phase III gets much more vertical. Calhoun Square has entitlements from the city to construct a seven-story building on the southeast corner of Girard Avenue and Lake Street, with the bottom two levels for commercial and the top five for residential. It also has entitlements from the city to construct a five-story building on the southwest corner of Hennepin Avenue and 31st Street, with the bottom two for commercial and the top three for residential.

Hoyt said the renovation has improved Calhoun Square’s public image and attracted more shoppers.

“I think the public in general is blown away by the commitment that ownership has made to making this a really vibrant part of town again,” he said.

Current tenants

Calhoun Square tenants and the year they moved into the mall

Aura // 2002
Baystreet Shoes // 1991
Bremer Bank // 1984
Chiang Mai Thai // 1998
Comedy Sportz // 2002
Eye Deals // 1990
Famous Daves // 1996
GNC // 1992
Il Gatto (originally opened as Figlio) // 1984
Independent // 2003
Jimmy Johns // 2001
Kitchen Window // 1989
LA Fitness // 2010
Sox Appeal // 1989
Sushi Tango // 2001
Uptown Cafeteria // 2010
Vision World // 1993
V State // 2007