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Artists sought to fill vacant Block E storefronts

One goal of the new program is to “promote leasable space in a new light to potential tenants.”

store display photo
Photo by Maya Khaira
The “Made Here” display at the Witt Mitchell Building; the program
will now expand to Block E

The Hennepin Theatre Trust on Tuesday announced a new initiative aimed at filling vacant storefronts at the long-troubled Block E complex in downtown Minneapolis.

The initiative, dubbed “Made Here,” will involve filling Block E’s street-level windows on Hennepin Avenue between Sixth and Seventh Streets with creations from Minnesota artists.

The Hennepin Theatre Trust is teaming with local artist Joan Vorderbruggen to create about 40 illuminated storefront displays. They will begin accepting artists’ submissions Thursday; the deadline for proposals is September 3, and the project is expected to open September 28.

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The Made Here program already launched on the corner of Hennepin Avenue and 7th Street, in the Witt Mitchell Building, where locally crafted furniture is on display, according to the Hennepin Theatre Trust.

One goal of the initiative is to “promote leasable space in a new light to potential tenants,” according to the Hennepin Theatre Trust.

Multiple spaces at Block E have been vacated through the exodus of many tenants during the past few years, including the AMC TheatreApplebee’s, Hard Rock Café, Hooters, and more. The new Made Here exhibits will be located in the property formerly occupied by Game Works, Snyders, and Borders, according to a Hennepin Theatre Trust spokeswoman.

Twin Cities BusinessMinneapolis-based development firm Alatus, LLC, which acquired Block E in 2010, previously announced plans to add a casino to the site, but supporters were unsuccessful in their attempt to pass a bill that would have made the non-Indian casino legal.

Property owners will lend their space to the Made Here project for a minimum of 90 days, but once a space is leased, the exhibition is disbanded, according to the Hennepin Theatre Trust.

The Made Here initiative is also part of a larger effort called the “Hennepin Cultural District,” which aims to create a cultural corridor between the Walker’s Sculpture Garden and the Mississippi River.

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.