Acme Comedy owner fears new apartments will halt business

- The owner of Acme Comedy Club in Minneapolis says a proposed apartment building will likely put him out of business. Louis Lee worries that the reduced number of parking spaces that will result from the development will turn customers away.

“No matter how much talent we bring in, if they can’t find parking they aren’t going to come,” he said.

The project is located on a surface parking lot at 721 1st Street North.

Developer, Solhem Companies, says construction will result in the loss of 120 parking spaces. However, by the time construction is complete, it will be adding 220 spaces on the lower levels of the building. Solhem owner, Curt Gunsbury, says 70 of those spaces will be for non-residents.

But Lee says he’s almost more worried about during construction.

“While you’re building it, what are we going to do?” said Lee. “While they are building it, my customers are already gone.”

Lee says he isn’t against the massive residential development he’s witnessed in the North Loop over his 25 years at Acme, but he says he wishes the city council would consider what increased density does to parking.

“Build a ramp so that everyone has a place to park and then you develop all you want.”

An online petition to stop Solhem’s apartment development had around 3,500 signatures by Tuesday evening, as Lee threatened to move Acme out of the North Loop.

“We really want to see him succeed,” said Gunsbury. “It’s a really important piece of the fabric of our neighborhood.”

Gunsbury said he was disappointed Lee didn’t reach out to him before publicly opposing the development. He said he has offered to work with Lee towards a resolution.

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