Major redevelopment moving ahead for Cowboy Slims site

City Walk Uptown project will feature apartments, restaurants and new retail

A plan for a flashy new development featuring high-end apartments, retail and two new restaurants in the heart of Uptown is moving forward.

The project — City Walk Uptown —  secured approval from the Minneapolis Planning Commission on Feb. 21. The developer behind the project is Clark Gassen, a veteran of the local real estate scene who converted many apartment buildings in southwest Minneapolis to condos during the real estate boom.

The proposal calls for demolishing the nightclub Cowboy Slim’s, 1320 West Lake St., and building a new seven-story building on the site featuring 92 apartments, ground-floor retail and two restaurants. A preliminary site plan has one restaurant facing Lagoon Avenue and the other facing West Lake Street. They would feature large porch areas.

Gassen declined to comment on the project for this article or release updated images of the development proposal.

It’s not clear if Cowboy Slim’s will be part of the redevelopment. Brian Asmus, vice president of The After Midnight Group, which owns Cowboy Slim’s, said they haven’t made a final decision. “We have a few options and are weighing them out as we speak,” he said.

Gassen is also working with the city’s Public Works department to widen Girard Avenue to make way for a plaza with landscaping and other amenities for pedestrians. It would eliminate a lane of on-street parking.

It would be part of a vision for  a Girard Meander — a walkway that would connect the north side of the Midtown Greenway with Calhoun Square. “The Girard Meander should become a festive public space that, like the main streets of Uptown, is animated with pedestrians walking from Calhoun Square to Mozaic and the Greenway,” according to a project description reviewed by the Planning Commission. “Girard Avenue should remain a vehicular street but should be designed to be closed, on occasion, on weekends and evenings for special events.”

The Mozaic is a new 10-story office building opening this spring at Lagoon and Girard.

Thatcher Imboden, president of the Uptown Association and a project manager at the Ackerberg Group — the developer of Mozaic — is supportive of the City Walk Uptown proposal.

“The City Walk project will be a good addition for Uptown, as it will add to the local economy by bringing additional residents, add additional storefront commercial space, and complete a much-needed link in the community-desired Girard Meander,” he said. “… This is an important step in the expansion of Uptown from an intersection of two business streets into a much larger business district.”

City Council Member Meg Tuthill (10th Ward) is also supportive of the project.

“It’s pretty exciting, quite frankly,” she said, adding she’s excited about the Girard Meander project and its potential to add more vitality to the streets of Uptown. “I think [Gassen] has some really interesting features going on with this project. We’re looking forward to it.”

The neighborhood group that represents the area — the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association — voted to approve the City Walk Uptown plan Dec. 14.

The apartment project is one of several in the development pipeline for the city.

To see a map showing other new development in Uptown and Lyn-Lake, click here

Reach Sarah McKenzie at smckenzie@mnpubs.com.