Block E owners announce casino plans

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The owners of Block E and Minnesota state legislators unveiled plans for a new state-run casino at Block E Wednesday.

Alatus LLC along with head of the Minneapolis Downtown Council, Sam Grabarski, and Rep. John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove proposed “Minnesota Live,” a plan to transform the struggling entertainment block into a gambling arena that could potentially draw tourists from across the Midwest to Minneapolis.  

Since Alatus LLC bought Block E last summer at a discounted rate of $14 million, the company has been discussing the redevelopment plan with other major downtown and privately owned businesses.

The construction of a new luxury casino downtown would require a minimum of $200 million in private investments. 

If the project is approved, it would be the first time a gambling profit would be subject to local and state taxes.  Supporters say the casino would generate between $100 million and $150 in tax revenue each year for the state.  

The redevelopment has faced opposition, including from Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak.  Republicans remain divided on the issue.        

Since Block E opened eight years ago, several businesses at the site have closed, including Gameworks, Hooters and Borders. 

Adding a casino to Block E requires state Legislature approval.  Kriesel will sponsor the House bill to introduce the plan at the Capitol.  No official hearing date has been set.