Development may threaten comedy club

Acme Comedy Club supporters petitioned against a housing plan that could close the business.

Stand-up comedian Charms performs at Acme Comedy Company's open mic on Monday night. The club could face closure due to an apartment development that would eliminate a majority of the parking spaces in the lot across from Acme.

Maddy Fox

Stand-up comedian Charms performs at Acme Comedy Company’s open mic on Monday night. The club could face closure due to an apartment development that would eliminate a majority of the parking spaces in the lot across from Acme.

Ryan Faircloth

Local and national comics and fans flocked to Minneapolis City Hall Monday to support Acme Comedy Company, which may close if a nearby apartment plans move forward. 

The proposed development — a 124-unit complex from local developer Solhem Companies — would replace a 130-car parking lot, limiting access to parking for customers of the renowned North Loop club. 

To voice their opposition to the plan, more than 20 Acme supporters testified at a public hearing at the Minneapolis City Planning Commission meeting Monday.

Minneapolis resident James Moore, who’s worked in the North Loop for 15 years, said at the meeting he doesn’t know where he’ll park now when going to work. He said the problem will also impact those from the suburbs looking for parking.

The North Loop parking issues, Moore said, may be bad for business.

“It would destroy a currently thriving community to not have parking available for residents coming in to support businesses,” he said.

Louis Lee, owner of Acme, said losing this much public parking would force him to relocate or shut down.

Lee said the majority of his audience lives in the suburbs and may stop coming without sufficient parking.

“That will substantially … cut off my income,” he said. “That will leave me no choice — either relocate or close the door.”

At the hearing, Comedian David Huntsberger urged the commission to deny the development, citing Acme’s reputation.

“The rest of the world was jealous that Prince lived here. They’re also jealous that Acme is here,” he said. “Don’t lose both of them.”

The uncertainty surrounding Acme drew attention in the lead-up to the hearing, including a 5,800-signature petition to deny the development.

Cy Amundson, a California comic, said he hoped the commission would delay the development until a parking solution was found.

“No one here is against bringing density to this community, like a number of people [have] said,” he said. “All we are asking here today is that it’s done with the care, the commitment and the attention to detail that the city that is known nationally for its art and its character deserves.”

Despite the petition and testimonies by opponents, the commission voted to approve the building with the added condition that the developer must work on parking solutions with local businesses like Acme.

Ward 3 City Council Member Jacob Frey said the City suggested solutions, like adding parking meters nearby and extending their hours, but hasn’t received a response from Acme.

“We’ve outlined several different proposed solutions, and they haven’t been getting back to us,” he said.

But Lee said talk by city officials and local landlords has been “cheap,” since no one has committed to an actual plan.

He said this indecision is because no one wants to give up parking in the North Loop neighborhood, where parking is especially valuable.

“That’s why nobody wants to give up parking, and nobody wants … to cooperate and say, ‘Well, let’s try to figure out a way.’ All they see is the pot of gold right in front of them,” Lee said.

He said if a parking solution isn’t found soon, businesses like his will suffer.

“Sooner or later, they’re going to drive out everybody,” Lee said