Biz buzz // Uptown Theatre closes for renovations

Uptown Theatre closes for renovations

HENNEPIN — On Jan. 31, the Uptown Theatre closed for a renovation project that will upgrade the theater and address some of the single-screen movie house’s longstanding issues.

“Far and away the biggest complaint we get is that the seats are bad,” said head manager Patrick Cross. “Some of them are bad, and some are just different than what people are used to.”

The old seats are being replaced. Other changes include a bigger screen, an upgraded digital projector, expanded concession stand and the possible addition of a full-service bar. The theater building also includes two retail spaces, both of which will be enlarged.

Even after the changes, many of the Uptown’s unique features will be retained. The iconic marquee will be untouched and the balcony will also remain open. And despite the industry’s move toward more digitally projected movies, the theater won’t be dropping actual film.

“We certainly lobbied that we’d like to still be able to show film,” Cross said.

The Uptown Theatre was built in 1939 and has landmark status from the Minneapolis Heritage Preservation Commission. It was preceded by another theater at the same site, which was constructed in 1913 as the Lagoon and renamed the Uptown in 1929. It was damaged by a fire and replaced by the existing theater.

Cross stated that he expects the theater to be closed for roughly four months. During that time, all of the Uptown Theatre’s employees will be transferred to either the Lagoon Cinema or the Edina Cinema, which are also operated by Uptown Theatre’s parent company Landmark Theatres.

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Icehouse hits Eat Street in spring

EAT STREET — When Matthew Bickford and Mike Ryan of Be’wiched Deli at 800 Washington Ave. N. announced plans for their second restaurant, Icehouse, they tentatively planned for a November 2011 opening. That didn’t happen, but fans of Be’wiched’s artisan sandwiches shouldn’t have to wait too much longer. According to Bickford, Icehouse should be opening at 2528 this spring, likely by mid-May.

The former Sindbad’s Café and Market space is under construction now, and Bickford said the construction has revealed a “really raw, cool and industrial” space with brick walls and high ceilings. Bickford said they plan to retain the rawness of the space, which was once an alleyway leading to an actual icehouse.

“The space is so cool,” said Bickford. “We’re just trying not to screw it up.”

The plans for the space indeed sound cool — along with lunch and dinner, Icehouse is being designed as a live music venue with near-nightly performances. Icehouse partner and local concert lighting designer Brian Liebeck is handling the music end of things and has big plans for the live entertainment.

“There’s tremendous amount of local talent here,” said Liebeck. “We really wanted to open a space where the musicians have input.”

Liebeck said that Icehouse will likely feature jazz and lounge music during dinner hours and transition to more “experimental” music later in the evening. He’s talking with several big-name local musicians about recurring gigs to build consistency and community and planning weekly events like a Sunday gospel brunch. Icehouse will also feature a modular stage for flexible performance planning, an integrated PA and lighting system and a second floor mezzanine. The partners have also hired a manager and music programmer who will be very familiar to those in the local music scene: Dave Weigart, long-time veteran of St. Paul’s Clown Lounge.

While music will be a major focus of Icehouse, the food and drink is every bit as vital. Local star bartender Johnny Michaels has been enlisted to design the bar program, and beer fans can expect 10 or so local brews on tap. Bickford says that like Be’wiched, Icehouse will focus on “from-scratch cookery” and incorporate small plates into their existing offerings.

“What we do here is take our skills from more fine dining and put it into a sandwich shop,” said Bickford. “This is gonna be a second spot with its own identity.”

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Greystar planning Uptown apartment development

THE WEDGE — Greystar Real Estate Partners, one of the largest apartment operators in the country, has purchased part of Uptown’s Bennet Lumber site for its first Minneapolis development. Greystar purchased the easternmost parcel of the 5.6 acre site, which is situated between Fremont and Colfax Avenues along W. 29th Street. Greystar has a purchase option to purchase the remaining two parcels from the previous owners.

The previous owners had outlined plans for a 710-apartment development on the complete site. Greystar first entered the Minnesota market in September, when it purchased a 500-unit apartment complex in Plymouth.

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Jonathan Adler store coming to Uptown

LAKE STREET — Designer and Bravo Network television personality Jonathan Adler will soon open a home furnishings and décor store in Uptown. The Jonathan Adler jobs site lists positions in Minneapolis, and an associated Craigslist ad indicated that the future store will be on Lake Street.

Uptown retail broker Jeffrey Herman confirmed that he worked with Jonathan Adler on the deal, but declined further comment.

Jonathan Adler operates roughly 15 retail stores around the country. The Minneapolis store and a Dallas location are listed as “coming soon.”  

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Second development project proposed for 27th & Lyndale

THE WEDGE — While Trader Joe’s is looking to develop the southwest corner of 27th and Lyndale, another proposal has emerged for the southeast corner. Developer Master Development shared plans with the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association in mid-January for a new retail development at 2701 Lyndale.

The property is currently home to a used car lot, a fourplex, two single-family homes and business Flanders Cycle. The development plan calls for their replacement with two single-story retail buildings, one of which would house a rebuilt Flanders Cycle store.

The second proposed building would be an 11,000-square-feet multi-tenant retail center. Businesses mentioned as potential tenants include a butcher, a pizza restaurant and Cellars Wine & Spirits. City ordinances would forbid both Trader Joe’s and Cellars from opening on the same block.

Masters Development and Flanders Cycle declined to comment for this story.

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The Wedge Co-op distributes grants through WedgeShare

THE WEDGE — The Wedge Co-op has distributed $60,000 in financial grants to community organizations through its WedgeShare program, which awards grants to nonprofits that work on environmental, natural health, sustainable agriculture, community involvement or other related issues.

This year marks both the 15th year of the WedgeShare program as well as the “International Year of Cooperatives,” as declared by the United Nations.

Nine organizations were chosen to receive grants: Emergency Foodshelf Network, Youth Farm and Market Project, Cornucopia Institute, Open Arms of Minnesota, Famers’ Legal Action Group, Water Legacy, Minnesota Food Association, Gardening Matters and Urban Baby. The recipients were chosen by Wedge Co-op members who voted during the co-op’s annual meeting in October.

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New boutique Oska to open in March

50TH & FRANCE — German clothing company Oska will open its first Midwestern retail location in the 50th & France shopping district this March.

The new store, which will be the fifth Oska location in the U.S., is taking over the 1,500-square-foot space at 4999 France Ave. Former tenant Gather recently relocated to a larger space a few doors away.

For the last 15 years, Oska Edina president Nancy Karason operated clothing and accessory shop JV & Company in downtown’s Gaviidae Common. It was there that she was first introduced to the Oska clothing line, which she calls “individual, timeless and urban.”

“The CEO of Oska walked into the shop one day and said I think you should carry this collection,” Karason said.

Karason closed JV & Company late last year to focus on Oska Edina. By the end of 2013, she’ll open two additional Oska locations in Seattle. Expansion into the U.S. market is a big focus for the brand, said Karason. It currently operates more than 40 shops in Europe and recently opened stores in Russia and Shanghai. She said that her clientele at JV & Company loved the brand and had long been asking her to open a store in the 50th & France area.

Got a buzz tip? Email Jeremy Zoss at jzoss@mnpubs.com.