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The site in 2015.

If it had survived, it would be a treasure, no doubt rehabbed into a fine hotel. But the Phoenix fell in 1961. Urban renewal, fueled by Federal funds, leveled the old cores of downtowns across the country. The Gateway district in Minneapolis, home to the city’s oldest and richest architecture, was clawed down and paved over. If the Metropolitan building’s gorgeous light court didn’t deserve to be saved, what hope could a tired senior like the Phoenix have?

The entire block went down for a Sheraton-Ritz hotel, but the Phoenix was sacrificed for something both prosaic and abstract. The slender tall building was replaced by a squat modern parking ramp with a zig-zag facade. Four levels of brute pink rock over a glass-wall liquor store. The Phoenix’s ground floor wasn’t exactly welcoming, but you could read the doors and windows as familiar streetscape elements. The ramp was almost a piece of abstract art, and no one mourned it when it was leveled in 1990.

The corner was returned to its original state: vacancy.

Of the three big buildings that had occupied the plot, the Phoenix lasted the longest. Now a new apartment tower rises again on the spot, this time from asphalt instead of ashes. It would have been apt for Opus to call their new development the Phoenix, and not just because of the site’s history.

After decades of disuse, the Gateway stirs again, stretches, and reaches up.