Ribbon Cutting Marks Nicollet Mall Reopening, but What's Next?

Ribbon Cutting Marks Nicollet Mall Reopening, but What's Next?

Nicollet Mall Reopening, What's Next? The ribbon has been cut, but that doesn't necessarily signify completely smooth sailing ahead, according to officials. The ceremony at noon on Thursday, November 16, did, however, mark a milestone in the redevelopment and redirection of downtown Minneapolis. Whether it's "all good" won't be evident for at least another season or two. According to reports, there are still empty spaces in the mall, and the urban vacancy rate is somewhat worrisome.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges proclaimed that the day was "extraordinary" as the area with its 225 new trees, LED lighting and extravagant art displays was opened to the public. Much of the $50 million renovation, that spanned the terms of three different mayors, was completed underground, not visible to the public. Street closures and accompanying congestion were a continuing source of frustration. But now, Nicollet Mall is once again open, following two years of actual construction, a multi-million dollar pricetag, and a lot of associated headaches.

The original mall was filled with retail stores, and it served local shoppers well for nearly five decades. The newly-redesigned mall will be further enhanced by the massive renovation of the former downtown complex left vacant when Macy's moved out earlier in the year. Now dubbed The Dayton's Project, in homage to the original flagship department store opened in 1902, plans call for a street-level complex of eateries open to the mall, with offices and commercial space on upper floors.

The property, which consists of the former 12-story retail store and two satellite buildings situated on almost an entire city block, is an integral part of the downtown core, close to office buildings, museums and galleries, and apartments and condos. This differs from the suburban development in Dakota County.

Although the timeline for the renovation is still a bit uncertain, renderings for the project depict modern, light-filled spaces designed for multiple uses, including even a health club and upper-floor terraces. The entire downtown project is envisioned as a way to assure that local citizens never abandon downtown as a place to shop, work, eat and be entertained. The Minneapolis urban core also enjoys a growing appeal as a place to live.

In addition, the reopening of the mall is timed well for the hoopla surrounding plans for Super Bowl LII celebrations, to be played nearby at the U.S. Bank Stadium Feb. 4, 2018. Plans for Super Bowl Live, a 10-day public festival planned with Nicollet Mall as the center, were announced last month, and will feature free concerts, national broadcasts from the site, food and other celebrations all purportedly celebrating football in conjunction with the snow and ice of a Minnesota winter.

If it all goes off as planned, it should mark an auspicious beginning for the shiny new downtown mall and revitalized urban core that the city spent a great deal of time and money to achieve.

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