Panchero’s Vacates Block E

Panchero's Mexican Grill closed its Block E location on Friday, which prompted rumors that it was forced out by the development's new owner, Alatus; Alatus denies those allegations.

Panchero's Mexican Grill is the latest company to vacate the Block E development in downtown Minneapolis-and it's a move that was rumored to be the decision of the development's new owner.

Reid Travis, a spokesman for Panchero's, confirmed Tuesday that the company shuttered its Block E location on Friday. The company has three other locations in Minnesota: Golden Valley, Bloomington, and Moorhead.

Travis said that the Coralville, Iowa-based restaurant operator was not looking to vacate the space but would not comment further on the rumors that Panchero's was forced out by Block E's new owner, Alatus, LLC.

In response to those rumors, which were prompted by a tweet that Travis sent out last week (which has since been removed), Alatus issued the following statement: “Panchero's has removed the erroneous statement from their Twitter feed. Leasing terms and details between Block E owner Alatus, LLC, and Block E tenants are confidential.”

Travis said that the company will look into opening another location in the Twin Cities, but it does not currently have any concrete plans.

“Yes, Block E is closed, unfortunately. We always have expansion on the mind though! Hopefully we find our way back there soon,” Travis tweeted on Tuesday.

The $149 million Block E development has struggled since it opened in 2002 with the help of a $39.1 million subsidy from the City of Minneapolis. Many of the project's tenants-including Borders, Bellanotte, Snyders Drug, GameWorks, Hooters, and Applebee's-have left, and it hasn't been able to dispel widespread concerns about crime in the area.

Kieran's Irish Pub moved to the site in March 2010 to join the other remaining tenants, including The Shout House and Kerasotes ShowPlace Theatres.

In February, news broke that Alatus had hired an urban retail specialist to help revitalize the struggling development. The consultant-Bruce Kaplan, a senior vice president at the Chicago office of CB Richard Ellis-told Twin Cities Business in February that he hopes to have a strategic plan for the development in place by this summer.

Alatus also announced in February that it is considering adding a casino to the site-but before a casino could be housed in downtown Minneapolis, a Constitutional amendment to make non-Indian casinos legal in the state would be needed.

The recent Block E departures aren't the only restaurant vacancies in Minneapolis. Forum, which opened in City Center less than a year ago, reportedly served its last customer on Saturday night.


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