Updated: March 8, 6:45 a.m.
There are few venues as tied to their neighborhoods as the landmark Uptown Theater, at the corner of Lagoon and Hennepin in Minneapolis — a destination for generations of moviegoers.
But the screen finally went dark when the last movie presenter, Landmark Cinemas, was evicted two years ago amid the pandemic. The site had previously been a movie theater for more than 80 years.
It’s since been purchased by developer Ned Abdul, whose company, Swervo Development, also runs the historic downtown Armory venue, rehabbed from what had become a dilapidated parking garage.
Grow the Future of Public Media
MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!
And like the Armory, the Uptown will be back as a live entertainment venue. Swervo announced Tuesday that its first show and opening night party, with local band Yam Haus, will be May 5.
Minneapolis artist Prof will perform June 23 and 24. And George Clinton with Parliament-Funkadelic will take the stage Sept. 16. Tickets go on sale Friday.
The theater dates back to 1916, as the Lagoon, and was renamed the Uptown in 1929. A fire damaged the original structure, and the building got its iconic Art Deco Streamline Modern exterior and 60-foot tall, three-sided UPTOWN sign back in 1939. It underwent a $2 million facelift in 2012.
The most recent renovations, set to be complete in May, included much of the northeast corner of one of the city’s most beloved blocks, and will feature a multi-purpose venue.
“The Uptown will be able to host live music, comedy acts, townhall meetings, Ted-talk speakers, one-act plays, film series, corporate and public events and other live performances,” Swervo said in a release.
Swervo’s update Tuesday said there will be a general admission floor and reserved mezzanine seating, as well as premium boxes.
“While it will not be a full-time movie theater anymore, the iconic balcony is staying, allowing for fixed seating,” the news release stated. “In addition, special film screenings and movie premieres are plausible in the future.”
It’s a bright spot for an area that has suffered in recent years, including vandalism in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and disruptive protests following the shooting of Winston Smith by police at a Lake Street parking ramp in 2021. Landmarks like Stella’s Fish Café, William’s Uptown Pub and Peanut Bar, Patina and the Uptown Apple Store have also closed their doors in the last three years.
But another live event venue, the Green Room, opened earlier this year a block away, at Lagoon and Girard, in the former Pourhouse space. Another historic movie house just down Hennepin Avenue, the one-time Suburban World theater, also got a renovation and repurposing as an event space — as well as a return to its original name, the Granada.