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New Owner Plans Calhoun Square Tune-Up

The Minneapolis-based Ackerberg Group expects to close on the deal for the Uptown Minneapolis complex in early April.

The Minneapolis-based Ackerberg Group has a deal to acquire Calhoun Square, an urban shopping center, in early April—and it’s planning to invest in renovations and attract new tenants.

The Ackerberg Group is already the largest commercial landlord in the Uptown area of south Minneapolis. Calhoun Square stands at the southeast corner of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue, the crossroads of the Uptown neighborhood.

Although Calhoun Square, located at 3001 Hennepin Avenue South, has been a well-known local icon since it opened in 1984, the mall has had its ups and downs over the years. Stuart Ackerberg, CEO of The Ackerberg Group, said that he’s looking to invest in renovations and draw a mix of local and regional retailers to complement existing tenants.

“What will be important for us is to creatively come up with a strategy to urbanize this mall,” Ackerberg told Twin Cities Business on Monday.

Ackerberg declined to disclose the price that his group will pay for Calhoun Square, but noted: “I think we’re buying it at a very attractive price.”

The 170,521-square-foot Calhoun Square is currently 88 percent leased, Ackerberg said. A ramp connected to Calhoun Square includes 729 parking spaces and also serves the larger Uptown area. Ackerberg has tapped Minneapolis-based design firm Shea, Inc., to help overhaul the interior of the mall.

A corner restaurant space in the mall, long anchored by Figlio, has been vacant since the March 2013 departure of the short-lived Primebar. (A 2012 Twin Cities Business feature story examined the possible fate of the corner of Hennepin and Lake, including some of the factors that have likely contributed to certain vacancies.)

“We think a strong local or regional operator that is more attuned to Uptown could be very successful there,” Ackerberg said of the vacant restaurant space. “We really think that the magic and the sizzle of Calhoun Square going back to the 1980s went back to the fact that it had so many local operators in the property.”

Ackerberg envisions making Calhoun Square a more inviting space.

“It’s pretty vanilla,” Ackerberg said of the current feel of the mall’s interior. “It’s just not a place that you want to hang out.”

The pending deal means the return of local ownership for Calhoun Square. The mall’s original developer, Ray Harris, and partners sold Calhoun Square in 2004 to Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Real Estate Investors. The mall sold again in 2007 when ROF Calhoun Square LLC, an affiliate of New York-based BlackRock Inc., paid $47.3 million for Calhoun Square.

After a renovation in 2008, Calhoun Square drew new national and international names, including LA Fitness, H&M, and CB2, the hipper cousin of Crate & Barrel.

Other tenants include Famous Dave’s, Timberland, Bay Street Shoes, and Kitchen Window, which has been a Calhoun Square tenant since 1989.

The deal for Calhoun Square also includes a currently vacant site at 1301 Lake Street West in Minneapolis, formerly the site of a Music Go Round retail store, which was razed. Ackerberg declined to talk specifics for the development site, but said: “We have some thoughts and some dreams for it. . . . There are not a lot of development sites that are available today in the Uptown area.”

The Ackerberg Group developed the new MoZaic project, completed in 2012, which brought new Class A office space to the Uptown area. Ackerberg is now pursuing a larger, second phase of that project called MoZaic East. The MoZaic sites are just a block from Calhoun Square along the Midtown Greenway.