The Cities Blog

Mayo Clinic joins Lynx, T-wolves in Block E redevelopment

mayo clinic square
A rendering of the redeveloped Block E. (Courtesy of Mayo Clinic)

The Minnesota Timberwolves, Lynx and the Mayo Clinic are teaming up in a reboot of the Block E redevelopment in downtown Minneapolis.

They’re going to move into the third floor of the defunct multi-use building on Hennepin Avenue, which will be renamed "Mayo Clinic Square."

Mayo Clinic will open a 20,000 square foot medical facility and take over medical care for the NBA and WNBA franchises. The Timberwolves are going to open four new practice courts.

The Lynx will move their team offices across the street.

“What sets this aside is that in our facility, we can walk through one door and get whatever we need. We have access right there to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic,” said Timberwolves president for basketball operations Flip Saunders. “What you’re hoping for, more than anything else, is game availability. You have better chances to win more games when your players are healthy.”

The team is also going to host amateur basketball programs, like clinics and seminars, as well as as a skyway level retail outlet.

For its part, the Mayo Clinic gets another foothold in the Twin Cities. The clinic had an presence at the Mall of America, but closed its “Healthy Living” outpost there last year.

“This facility is for everyone, whether you’re a masters athlete, a weekend warrior or an elite player,” said Dr. Ed Laskowski, co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center. “We really feel that the principles used in training the elite athlete have a trickle down effect and can be used by everybody. And we want the elite athlete to be that beacon that attracts people.”

Officials with the Camelot group thinks they finally have the key to success for what has been one of downtown Minneapolis’s most difficult blocks, said Phillip Jaffee, of Provident Real Estate Ventures, one of the owners of the building. An effort to graft a suburban shopping mall into the neighborhood has largely failed to live up to expectations.

The Lynx and Timberwolves announced last November they had planned to open a practice facility in Block E. They announced then that RSP Architects would redesign the exterior and interior to make the complex look more welcoming.

"Successful multi-tenant projects are all about complementary uses,” Jaffe said. “You have the Timberwolves that are going to attracting high school clinics and youth groups and junior college events. You have the Mayo Clinic that attracts everybody, and our restaurants are going to attract everyone. So now you have the synergy that people are going to want to be down on this property with this fantastic location, Target Center, Target Field. That’s the synergy we’ve been trying to get that’s been missing.”

The project is expected to cost about $50 million and open in 2015. It does not include any public subsidy. But the groups say "the property is on track to repay [to the city of Minneapolis] the remaining tax increment financing balance of over $13 million by 2019, seven years ahead of schedule." The financing mechanism uses the increased property taxes that a real estate development generates to finance development costs.

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