Calhoun Square’s in need of an adrenaline shot

Is the Uptown bastion dying a slow death?

The second floor of Calhoun Square is a ghost town, completely devoid of any human presence that isnâÄôt downing California rolls at the nearby Sushi Tango. Down one floor, a crowd may be gathering at the bar for FiglioâÄôs happy hour, but the surrounding environment is also silent, deserted, still. ItâÄôs easy to see that Calhoun Square is desperately clinging to its long-faded glory days. But like the rest of the nation, the Uptown mainstay has plans to do a little changing. According to its website, âÄúItâÄôs time to capitalize on the fact that good things really do come to those who wait.âÄù Patrons can even become fans of the corner behemoth on Facebook, a sign of Calhoun SquareâÄôs desire to stay with the times. The Calhoun Square PR machine is working overtime trying to improve its public image, but nobody seems to want to answer questions about why Calhoun Square is becoming more like the desolate Bodie, Calif. than a hub of alternative culture. Waiting is something its patrons have been doing plenty of. Though Calhoun Square houses four popular Uptown hotspots âÄî Figlio , Famous DaveâÄôs , the Independent and Sushi Tango âÄî itâÄôs situated in the middle of an economic region thatâÄôs failing to thrill shoppers. A generic bevy of retail giants like VictoriaâÄôs Secret , Urban Outfitters and The North Face are gradually creeping in across the street and smashing out the independent stores Uptown was known for, like the charming Magers & Quinn bookstore or the vintage clothing store Everyday People. Although the foot traffic remains fairly steady at Calhoun, itâÄôs clearly evident that a shot of adrenaline is desperately needed in the area. The folks behind Calhoun Square are deep in the midst of a redevelopment, which began in March of last year. The current construction in the area is due to a new parking ramp and soon even more revamping will be making further messes on Hennepin and Girard avenues. Entrances will be jazzed up, seating will be revamped and the plans are full of plenty of room for future tenants. There will be about 18 months of construction, resulting in plaza areas, a âÄúred carpetâÄù and a public rendezvous spot like the boardwalk in Duluth. The property was purchased in August by a New York investment firm for a staggering $47.3 million, so quite a bit is riding on its success. But with the economy in shambles and shoppers wary and reluctant, is there hope for a revitalized Calhoun Square? ThereâÄôs little to draw shoppers inside due to poor advertising and besides the restaurants, thereâÄôs no telling from street-side what retailers reside inside the doorways. Were they to place a few top-tier shops inside, like a unique hodgepodge in the vein of Patina, or perhaps a local chain like CalhounâÄôs neighbor Heartbreaker and market them to a ridiculous extent, the foot traffic and spending would surely increase. With the current recession a constant black cloud of a threat, Calhoun Square could remain just a cold, empty memory. But if the renovation plans do pull through and retailers take a chance on the area again, Calhoun Square could become as lively and bustling as the Prince song it inspired.