Block E AMC to Close; Uptown Theatre Reopens

The AMC Theatre in downtown Minneapolis will close September 23; meanwhile, the renovated Uptown Theatre reopens this week, complete with a larger screen, new seats, and a full-service bar.

Following a legal dispute over the terms of its lease, AMC Theatre in Block E will close its doors later this month—marking yet another major tenant that has exited the troubled retail complex.

But as Minneapolis loses one movie theater, another is set to reopen: The historic Uptown Theatre will open its doors on September 14, following a $2 million renovation.

AMC Director of Public Relations Ryan Noonan said Thursday that the 15-screen downtown Minneapolis AMC Theatre will close September 23, when its current lease expires.

Minneapolis-based development firm Alatus, LLC, which acquired Block E in July 2010, began a legal dispute later that year with AMC over the terms of its lease, alleging that language regarding AMC’s option to renew its lease was unclear. AMC was “not paying any rent” to occupy the 84,000-square-foot, stadium-seating movie theater, according to the complaint. Under its lease, the theater’s rent is based on a percentage of gross sales: It owes 15 percent for sales above $3 million, 20 percent for sales above $5 million, or 25 percent for sales above $7 million. Block E’s owner asked a judge to deem the lease extension “unenforceable” due to its ambiguous language.

AMC, meanwhile, argued that the lease’s provisions were “valid and enforceable”—and it should be allowed to renew its lease under the existing terms.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery in March 2011 ruled in favor of Alatus, stating that the lease offers a renewal, which would require the negotiation of a new lease, but not an extension, which would allow AMC to remain in Block E under the same contract.

“We’re disappointed we can no longer provide guests with the AMC experience at that location,” Noonan said, adding that the company still operates theaters at Southdale Center in Edina and Rosedale Mall in Roseville.

AMC joins a long list of former tenants that have exited Block E, including Applebee’s, Hard Rock Café, Borders, Bellanotte, Snyders Drug, GameWorks, and Hooters. Alatus 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.

“At this point, Alatus is reviewing a number of redevelopment opportunities,” including office space for the development’s second floor and up and “street-level restaurants and entertainment,” Alatus spokeswoman Susan Evans told Twin Cities Business.

When asked whether Alatus has any definitive plans for a new tenant in the AMC space, Evans said, “Updates will be announced at the appropriate times.”

Meanwhile, the Uptown Theatre will reopen Friday following seven months of renovations. Upgrades include a new and larger screen, new seating, “gourmet concessions,” and an upstairs lounge that will serve alcoholic beverages.

The Star Tribune recently reported on the theater’s many upgrades, which included the removal of 800 old seats and the installation of 342 larger-sized single seats and two-person sofas. In addition, the theater’s 35-millimeter projector was replaced with state-of-the-art digital equipment. The theater will reportedly offer reserved ticketing and online sales, and wheelchair users will have access through a special elevator.

To learn more, read the Star Tribune’s complete story here.