MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For almost two years, digging and pounding has been going on along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis as part of a $50 million construction project.
City leaders wanted to modernize the appearance of the mall as well as work on updates to underground maintenance, which hadn’t been revamped since 1989.
On Friday afternoon, leaders from the city of Minneapolis briefed the press about the status of construction.
City leaders unveiled a new campaign featuring an image of the iconic Mary Tyler Moore statue that will be back on display on the mall once construction is complete.
The image shows the statue tossing a hard hat into the air instead of Moore’s signature blue beret and the message reads, “We’re going to make it after all.”
The Nicollet Mall construction project began in April 2015 and is slated to be almost complete by this November.
Mayor Betsy Hodges said construction will be done by the time Minneapolis hosts the 2018 Super Bowl.
“It will be at moments frustrating, as most construction projects are,” Hodges said. “But the end result is going to transform downtown Minneapolis for generations.”
Some managers and businesses owners along the mall told WCCO they initially expected the construction to last closer to 18 months, not almost three years as is expected.
“It’s been a challenging two years, as the time has gone on,” The Local general manager Josh Petzel said.
The Irish pub has been on Nicollet Mall for nearly two decades, and Petzel has been there for 17 of those years.
“We finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Petzel said.
Petzel said losses to his business have been significant because customers tend to go elsewhere when they see the heavy construction.
“It looks like a bomb zone had gone off here and it’s not attractive to people to come down,” Petzel said.
Petzel commended the contractors for the project for keeping up communications with impacted businesses and always making sure there is some sort of path into each business along the path of construction.
While city leaders stressed the current plan for the project is on time and budget, Petzel said most business owners did not expect it to take so long when the project was initially in discussions.
“The length and process, I guess, seems like it has gone on longer than what anyone had anticipated,” Petzel said “But, at the same time this is not an easy project, you’re basically remodeling an entire space all while trying to keep that space open and viable to customers.”
Throughout construction, several business have closed like Macy’s, Barnes and Noble and some restaurants.
City leaders told WCCO they have not been tracking how many businesses have closed and that several factors contribute to closures.
The city also stressed that many new businesses are on the way for Nicollet Mall.