Mall of America; Bloomington, Minnesota

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Here it is. The big kahuna. The head honcho. This is it, for the United States anyway. The 15-year-old Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota is one of the largest single-site retail themed complexes in the whole entire country. A few sites in America offer more retail, such as the King of Prussia Mall in metro Philadelphia, and even the Eastwood Mall in metro Youngstown, Ohio, but due to the Mall of America’s large theme park in the center of the complex, it is the largest overall. However, we’re all pretty much aware of this. The Mall of America is huge, and pretty much everybody and their grandmother knows that. What I’d like to interrogate and focus on is twofold: How does the mall and how has the mall operated within its own framework since the beginning; and secondly, how does the mall operate locally in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area?

The Mall of America was born not of necessity, but rather from notions of excessive grandeur. The Twin Cities already had malls, many of them, in fact, and even arguably the very first climate-controlled enclosed regional mall, Southdale Center, opened in 1956 about 10 minutes away from the present Mall of America. It all really began when the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Twins decided to leave their home at the Metropolitan Stadium, where they and various other professional teams played from 1956 to 1981, to new digs at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. The stadium was demolished in 1982, and everyone wondered what would become of the site. Unbeknownst to many, the Ghermezian Brothers, who developed the megamall West Edmonton Mall in Canada came a-calling, and by 1986 had signed an agreement with the City of Bloomington for rights to the site for a new megamall, an American version of what the Ghermezians brought to Canada. Various other groups got involved, including Teachers Insurance and Annuity and Melvin Simon & Associates, and each brought money and mall design expertise to the project. They broke ground in 1989, and in August 1992 the Mall of America opened with great fanfare.

Mall of America Amusement Park in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

The gross area inside the Mall of America is 4.2 million square feet; however, only 2.5 million square feet are available as retail space on four levels which are arranged in a roughly symmetrical rectangle connecting four anchors at its vertices. The four sides to the rectangle contain roughly 520 stores on three levels, and each side has its own distinct style in terms of decor. There are also two large food courts in the mall, one on each of the north and south side’s third levels. Due to the mall’s footprint being rather small, hemmed in on the space of the old stadium, parking was to be an issue. To solve this problem, they built two gigantic identical seven-level parking structures on the east and west sides of the mall, and the former Met Center was torn down in 1994 and is currently a gravel lot used for overflow parking. Each level in the parking structures is named after a state, to fit with the whole America theme. Also, despite being in one of the coldest parts of the country, the Mall of America is not heated. Instead, the giant structure is heated by patrons, employees, and the greenhouse effect during the day because the roof is made up of transparent windows, which also provide natural light to the Amusement Park during the day. In fact, air conditioning needs to be run at all times to maintain a comfortable climate within the mall, even during January.

Mall of America in Bloomington, MNAs far as the retail spaces within the Mall of America, many inside the mall have changed while the anchors have not. The anchors when the mall opened in 1992 are the same as today: Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Sears, and Nordstrom. However, the offerings inside the mall have been transformed slightly over the past 15 years. Several junior anchors which graced the mall in its early days, such as Filene’s Basement, Linens ‘n Things, and Kids R Us, have gone away. The mall has also lost National American University, which offered college classes at the mall for many years. However, despite these retail changes, many components of the mall have remained, like the underwater aquarium, LEGO Imagination Center, many sit-down restaurants like Rainforest Cafe, an alternative High School, and even the Chapel of Love wedding chapel. The amusement park in the middle of the mall has also remained, even though it was rebranded The Park at MOA from Camp Snoopy following the breakdown of talks with Cedar Fair Amusement Company, thus ending the Peanuts characters branding.

Also of note are the mall’s third and fourth levels. The first two levels of the mall are typical of any super-regional mall, with many national retailers; however, the third and fourth levels at the Mall of America are a bit different. The food courts occupy most of the third level along the north and south corridor, but there are also many sit-down restaurants like California Cafe and Famous Dave’s on this level. Comprising the rest of the third level on the east and west sides there are many seemingly local stores that sell Minnesota knick-knacks, souvenirs, discounters and even one store which has been open since the mall opened that specializes in only farm toys. It seems the third level is undesirable for many competitive national retailers, save for some junior anchor holdouts like Nordstrom Rack, Marshalls, and Sports Authority on the third level which features a wall of faded pictures of people exercising from 1992. The fourth level, which only exists on the east and north sides of the mall, opened with an all-encompassing entertainment theme, and was comprised of several adult-themed night clubs and a 14-screen AMC Movie Theater. However, in 1999, one of the night clubs had problems with indecent exposure and other issues and closed. These problems were further complicated in 2004 when the City of Bloomington passed a citywide smoking ban in all establishments, and as a response all but one of the adult-themed clubs closed. As of today only Hooters and the movie theatre remain open on the fourth level.

Mall of America in Bloomington, MNFinally, I wanted to examine how the Mall of America functions locally in the Twin Cities area. When it opened in 1992, the Mall of America was controversial for many residents and local businesses, wondering how they would compete with this monster in the backyard. Surprisingly, though, the Mall of America did not kill every single other mall in the region. Drawing largely on tourists who come specifically for the mall from neighboring states, nationally, or even internationally, the local malls in the area still continue to be local. Many Twin Cities residents feel the Mall of America is too large for the typical shopping trip many people traditionally take to their local malls, spending an hour or two there, and continue to shop at places like Burnsville Center, Ridgedale Mall, Eden Prairie Center, Southdale Mall, and many others. Many who go to the Mall of America are out-of-towners, and this is implicit in the car license plates found in the mall’s behemoth parking structures. An inordinate amount are from the Dakotas, Iowa, Wisconsin, and other regional states. People in the Twin Cities metro have mostly continued to patronize their local malls, and even renovate them extensively. Even the malls which were damaged by the opening of the Mall of America have bounced back, like Eden Prairie Center which was partially demolished and rebuilt with a completely new theme and as an enclosed mall in 2002. Other malls have also been extensively renovated in recent years, like Rosedale Center, and more recently Ridgedale and Burnsville Center. Even the farther flung malls are reinventing, like Northtown Mall in Blaine, and two brand-new large lifestyle centers have even been recently constructed in east-suburban Woodbury and northwest-suburban Maple Grove. In addition, the retail in downtown Minneapolis has also continued to be a destination for locals. So, retail locations are not in short supply or hurting by any means in the Twin Cities area due to the presence of the Mall.

Furthering the importance of tourism to the Mall of America, Metro Transit’s inaugural Hiawatha Line connected the mall via light rail to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and downtown Minneapolis in June 2004. Since the hub airport is literally across I-494 from the Mall, the short five-minute train ride has allowed connecting travelers to visit the mall even on relatively short layovers. Also, Bloomington is centrally located within the Twin Cities area, between the hub cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and several miles south.

Mall of America in Bloomington, MNSo what’s next for the Mall of America? A lot, actually, is in the works, including a major expansion many years in the making which will allow the Mall to reclaim its top spot. Mall of America Phase II, which is scheduled to begin construction later in 2007, will more than double the size of the mall. Included in the expansion are more upscale retailers, and a diversity of offerings including a 6,000 seat music theatre, new hotel, water park and non-department store anchors like Bass Pro Shops which will hinge off the current mall’s north end on the former site of the Met Center. In fact, a piece of Phase II already opened in 2004 with Ikea, which will be connected to the new development via skywalk. The new development is not without controversies, as many wonder how the Ghermezians will finance the project. They are currently asking the state of Minnesota to finance a new parking structure for Phase II and for tax-free building materials for the project. But, it appears they have cleared the first minor hurdle, as the City of Bloomington has already approved preliminary plans for the project. It will be very interesting to see how Phase II is integrated and all of its offerings, and whether it will open on schedule in 2011.

Here are some pictures of the outside of the mall, including the behemoth anchors and the parking structures:

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Inside of the mall’s retail perimeter:

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Inside the Park @ MOA:

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

Mall of America in Bloomington, MN

85 thoughts on “Mall of America; Bloomington, Minnesota”

  1. Wow, I always wanted to know more about The Mall of America. Kudos for making the trek there. There’s lots to intake here though – talk about filling all available space on your lens. I take it you used a camera for this one, right? I don’t know, I’m more impressed by malls that have been here for a while instead of their sheer magnitude so I can’t excuse this bias of infatuation for 70’s malls like most of us (I’m sure of). This is certainly one of those places to celebrate your Americana.

  2. Hey! I suggested this! Thanks! Regarding Phase II, I heard that the “recreation anchor” will be a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. If you want, I can send you a scan of the current MOA mall directory.

  3. Woah,trippy

    The utilized every available space and haven’t even left one wall blank! and for once they use a varied color palette besides plain white. I applaud them for that, and I thought I knew everything about this mall,turns out I was wrong!

    Those stores must have three floors then.

    It’s crazy!!!

    that village looks like a big playground,are those building accessible or just there for decoration?

    Haven’t seen any building that had a wooden shingled roof inside a mall for years!

    Which anchor’s 3rd floor is going to be removed in expansion project?

  4. I used my digital camera, the same camera I use to take all the mall photos. It’s a Canon PowerShot SD 450.

    I believe the expansion will hinge off the current mall in the middle of the north wing, which goes from Sears to Nordstrom. It looks like it’ll just connect where the current main entrance is on that side, since there’s no parking structure on that side, and it’ll probably skywalk across the street to Ikea and the new stuff which is currently just a gravel lot. It was formerly the Met Center, but that was torn down in 1994.

  5. Please,disregard my last question about the removal of an anchors 3rd floor, I got confused and just realized that, it’s a parking garage thats going to be removed,duh.

    how silly of me.

    Anyway it looks like most of the interior is original,with those crazy square lights that look like they have white outlines around them and those odd-looking illuminated bridges.

  6. One more thing, why don’t anchor stores have 3 floors nowadays? 2 floors are so boring, 3 floors are an adventure,he he.

    I just like anchors who who have stacked floors like that (3 floors I consider a stack, 2 floors are just an ordinary anchor to me)

  7. The anchors are 3 floors apeice because their square footage per-floor is quite small. You have to remember, this mall is crammed onto a rather small plot of land.

    I got to go to this mall just a few months after it opened (1992), and my most recent visit was this past April (2007). The tenant roster has changed so greatly over the years, that it would take forever to list all the changeovers. Most of it was due to huge bankruptcies of major apparel chains back in the mid 1990s, and more recently with many specialty music / video chains going out.

    They’re going to have to figure out what to do with the former ‘adult’ themed area of the mall. That’ll never be the way it was again with the smoking ban and all the previous troubles they had. Right now, that area, and some spots on the 3rd level, are kind of sparse.

  8. Don’t believe everything you hear about the smoking ban being responsible for the 4th floor bar closings — even when the company that owns them makes the claim. The out-of-state company that owned and operated all of the bars (except Hooters) on the 4th floor was in bankrupcy at the time of the closing, it is more likely the high rent the MOA charges for that much square feet was the real reason. The smoking ban was a convenient scapegoat for a bad business decision to go so big at the MOA. By the way, the company is back in Minnesota in a big free-standing facility in (nonsmoking) Maple Grove. All of MN goes smokefree on Oct. 1, 2007.

  9. I like it. I don’t love it, but I like it. 😉

    It looks fresher in these pictures than it usally looks in most people’s photgraphs, and seeing it in this format makes me wistful for that ’80s mall look that permeates this place but is disappearing from malls left and righht in “beautification” projects.

  10. That comment about the 80’s malls look and the crazy early 90’s decor with the industrial type lights couldn’t help me but think of the early-early videogame-esque electronic music that dominated the culture of the early 1990s the decade this mall was built in!

    You can hear what I’m talking about on this site, click on “hardcore” then click on “new beat” if you click on number 4 from the list I think you’ll immediately remember the music I am talking about,yes it repeats itself continually but you can turn it off by clicking on the red lined square, once you had enough.

    Of course if your like me who heard this type of music while playing Sega Genesis games,you’ll probably tune it out, lol.

    Of course if you weren’t born prior to 1990 or were born in the late 90’s you probably never even heard this type of music.

    hehe what a crazy decade it was.

  11. MoA was the inspiration for malls catering to entertainment.

    While not fully built out, the 4th level of Palisades Center is “entertainment related” (Dave & Busters, Fridays, Fox Sports Grill, etc) and MoA should consider attracting these type of tennants to revive that space.

  12. I just like how those hallways are so dark,yet the neon and fluorescents look so technological and semi-futuristic that it still has a character to it.

    Modernism at it’s best

    I think the early to mid 1990s was the last decade that any malls had a sense of character, after that with the post-modernist movement everything had to look “pretty” and is some sense be “a modern version of traditional architecture” but it ends up looking so blah and boring.

  13. Great job, Prangeway!

    Actually, while the anchors in this mall are large (compared to the national average), they really are not any larger than the department stores found at malls in New Jersey. (Given the size of the mall, I actually expected each anchor to be much larger.) Below is a list of the size of each of the anchors:

    *Macy’s: 280,000 sq. ft.
    *Nordstrom: 220,000 sq. ft.
    *Bloomingdale’s: 210,000 sq. ft.
    *Sears: 177,904 sq. ft.

    Also, I plan to visit the Mall of America this summer for my annual vacation. It may sound silly, but this will be the second year in a row that my vacation will be retail-based, as last year I visited the (then) Chicago flagship store of Marshall Field’s. And, in the coming years, I plan to spend my vacations at more of the country’s biggest malls.

    As Prangeway mentioned, the Mall of America is not the largest mall in the country in terms of total retail space. According to Wikipedia, the 21 largest American malls in terms of retail space are as follows:

    1. Eastwood Mall (Niles, OH): 3,200,000 sq. ft.
    2. King of Prussia Mall (King of Prussia, PA): 2,798,956 sq. ft.
    3. Mall of America (Bloomington, MN): 2,777,918 sq. ft.
    4. South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, CA): 2,700,000 sq. ft.
    5. Sawgrass Mills (an outlet mall in Sunrise, FL): 2,613,035 sq. ft.
    6. Del Amo Fashion Center (Torrance, CA): 2,500,000 sq. ft.
    7. Aventura Mall (Aventura, FL): 2,400,000 sq. ft.
    8. The Galleria (Houston, TX): 2,298,417 sq. ft.
    9. Woodfield Mall (Schaumburg, IL): 2,224,000 sq. ft.
    10. Roosevelt Field Mall (Garden City, NY): 2,189,941 sq. ft.
    11. Plaza Las Americas (San Juan, PR): 2,173,000 sq. ft.
    12. Millcreek Mall (Erie, PA): 2,139,244 sq. ft.
    13. Tysons Corner Center (McLean, VA): 2,100,000 sq. ft.
    14. Lakewood Center (Lakewood, CA): 2,092,706 sq. ft.
    15. Oakbrook Center (an outdoor mall in Oak Brook, IL): 2,006,688 sq. ft.
    16. Palisades Center (West Nyack, NY): 2,000,000 sq. ft.*
    17. Lark Ridge Center (a lifestyle center spread over many blocks in Thornton, CO): 2,000,000 sq. ft.*
    18. Westfield Garden State Plaza (Paramus, NJ): 2,000,000 sq. ft.*
    19. Jordan Creek Town Center (West Des Moines, IA): 2,000,000 sq. ft.*
    20. Scottsdale Fashion Square (Scottsdale, AZ): 1,928,036 sq. ft.
    21. Fashion Show Mall (Las Vegas, NV): 1,888,151 sq. ft.

    *Note: Despite the fact that Palisades Center, Lark Ridge Center, Westfield Garden State Plaza, and Jordan Creek Town Center each have 2,000,000 sq. ft. of retail space, Wikipedia claims that they each rank #16, #17, #18, and #19, respectively.

  14. I’m not going to lie to you, seeing places like this really make me miss the early-mid 1990’s…I started high school in that time and that was still in the “bigger is better” mall era. I would agree with another poster here that the early 1990’s were definitely the last days of modernism, though by that point it was white, light, bright and airy vs. the 1970’s, which were dark and moody. Places like this just made you feel optimistic: like nothing too bad was ever going to happen.

  15. One of the old shops, I know was a Wizards of the Coast retail shop. Why this? It’s the only one I remember from their site! 😀

  16. I just got some info on the Nickelodeon deal with the Park at MOA to re-brand the theme park with Nickelodeon characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants (Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?), Dora the Explorer, Diego, Cosmo and Wanda from the Fairly Odd Parents among others in 2008. I’ve only been there once in 2003 when the Peanuts were still there. More about the theme park deal can be found here:

  17. This is good news this is very good news since Nickelodeon will once again will have a theme park attraction available to the public, this type of thing hasn’t been around since Nickelodeon closed their famous studios attraction in Universal Studios.

    For once it’ll give them some public exposure,and not an entity that only exist on the TV.

    This bittersweet for the old Nick fans of the 90’s.

  18. There was a WOTC retail store here? I didn’t even know those existed. What could you buy there…little statues of bugbears? Heh!

  19. Nah, I’d estimate Magic the Gathering crap and Pokemon cards. There was also in the mall some sorta Amish goods store.

  20. Wizards of the Coast opened stores when the whole Pokemon craze hit big (circa 1999), and as quickly as that came and went, so too, did the retail stores.

    If I’m not mistaken, they’re now under Hasbro’s ownership.

    It’s hard to detail this mall’s themes….that is, the architectural / design styles that are laid out in each section. When i last walked the entire mall (Yes, the whole thing…..all 3 main floors, all four sections), I’d have to say my favorite area was the South Mall (between Macy’s and Bloomies). I just like the dark, moody nature and carpeted flooring of this area.

    The area that looked different to me between my 1992, and most recent visit, was the West Mall (between Nordstrom to Macys). They had to of remodeled it recently, as it used to have brown / terra-cotta tiling, and now it boasts slate / coal and black tiling. Ceilings were also retiled to black, really giving it a darker feel.

    Continuing clockwise, the North Mall (this links Nordstrom and Sears) was the most ’80s’ feeling section to me. It was the brightest area. Lots of skylights, atriums and angles to the storefronts. When walking on the first floor of this section, I daresay I actually got a bit confused with where I was going. The storefronts are all jagged, and the concourse is not a straight shot…’s got two ‘humps’…that’s the best way I can detail the layout.

    Finally the East Mall (running between Sears down to Bloomies) to me, is the typical mall styling we see nowadays. It’s most interesting part is the routunda court….a huge staging area when any shows come to the mall. Because of the 4th floor former ‘entertainment’ area, it’s easily the most airy spot in the mall.

    I’m sure as the years go on, they’ll keep redoing these four sections to keep things looking fresh.

    Actually I wouldn’t doubt that a full-blown remodel for the entire building will commence when Phase II is finished to merge everything together and make it all flow more smoothly.

    I just hope they don’t dump the different design elements that make the four sections different from one to the next.

  21. Yeah, WOTC is owned by Hasbro. I sort of got into playing D&D recently, so that’s how I know.

  22. I find it ironic that Eastwood Mall is now larger than Tysons I. When I was attending Youngstown State University in the early 90’s, Eastwood was half dead. We’d hit Southern Park or even drive to Randall Park before we’d hit that mall (though my mom did like it). It was very dated (I remember the mural surrounding the closed twin screen movie theatre that looked like someone dropped a massive amount of acid before they painted it), and when I heard that Woolworth was closing, I figured it might be the end for Eastwood.

    Then one day, I was talking to someone from Niles at my job on the phone. I asked if Eastwood was still there, and she said it was alive and well and booming. When I first returned to that area in 2004 (first time in ages) we ran out, and I was shocked!

    I’m glad to see them thriving, even if they’ve lost some of their old character. I visited Randall Park in April, and it just broke my heart.

  23. For the most part the enclosed centers in the Minneapolis area are doing well, with one major exception.

    Brookdale, located in Brooklyn Center, is well on its way to being a dead mall. Brookdale lost two of its anchors (JCPenney and Mervyn’s) in 2004. Many retail mainstays inlcuding Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, Gap, and American Eagle have shuttered their Brookdale locations.

    Brookdale’s demise has more to do with shifting demographics in its main trade area than the opening of Mall of America, which is 20 miles away. It has also faced stiff competition from the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, a lifestyle center in nearby Maple Grove.

  24. Does anyone have inforrmation on Irongate Mall in Hibbing MN? It is about three hours north of MoA in the Iron Range. Irongate is in haphazard shape with a JC Penney’s, a Sears hardlines store, and a couple of other stores. Parts of this mall is closed off. Irongate is in very sad shape and I don’t know how much longer it will hold on.

  25. I saw a lease plan once that showed Irongate Mall as being bigboxed. Not sure what it had previously, other than Kmart (now vacant I believe). There were also rumors of Big Lots.

    The mall may have had Spurgeon’s at one point, where Jo Ann Fabrics is now. The layout is virtually identical to Copper Country Mall in Houghton, MI — same layout, same JCPenney/Kmart/Jo-Ann anchors.

    There’s another mall in Hibbing too, the Mesabi Mall. It’s even smaller, anchored by a grocery store, Family Dollar, and L&M Fleet Supply (former Pamida). AT one point Mesabi had a Woolworth too, not sure of where though.

  26. Mark said: “that village looks like a big playground,are those building accessible or just there for decoration?”
    All of the buildings inside the park are accesible. Some house entrances to rides, some are gift shops, some are restaurants, etc.
    Where the Wizards of The Coast store used to be, there is now, or was when I last visited, (My most recent visit to the mall being about two years ago) a new game shop. They sell mostly board games but have card sets too.
    One of the biggest, and most long-lived tourist attractions is the Build-a-bear workshop, which is on the first floor, right at the edge of the park.
    Also, I don’t think anyone mentioned the Rotunda. A lot of events are held there (KS95 for Kids fund raiser annually, talent contests, and concerts), and that’s where all of the christmas trees are set up and decorated during the holidays. It is on the same side of the mall as Underwater World.

  27. I visited MoA last friday. Is this mall the only place in the world where you get a Pepsi from McDonalds? Is Pepsi’s contract so strong at MoA that McDonalds has to serve Pepsi? WOW!!! This was my third visit here and the mall looks almost the same (I live in Illinois). This truly is a tourist mall. My brother-in-law lives in St. Paul and he rarely go here, prefering other malls in the area, even Har-Har Mall.

  28. There are McDonald’s locations inside casinos in Las Vegas that have a contract with Pepsi that serve Pepsi exclusively.

  29. The McDonald’s locations at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Mass also serve Pepsi.

    Situations like that are more common than you may think. There are a few more situations (not just involving McDonald’s) that I know of. I once heard of a Pizza Hut in rural West Virginia in the 80s that had to serve Coke simply because no Pepsi bottlers served the area.

  30. Send away. I think it’s online on their website too though.

  31. Aw, sorry, there’s no earthly way I could scan the map…unless I give up part of my evening…

    They have them there. Soozie, could you maybe take some new pictures for this website? That would be cool.

  32. The Phase II website has been taken offline apparently. I think I still have the high-rez images they had…I can email them to you…

  33. There is a Hooters. Planet Hollywood was up there at one time.

  34. The entertainment district, 4th Floor, of MOA included Player’s Sports Bar, a huge arcade (name escapes me), Jillians Bowling and Entertainment (21+), a comedy club and Gator’s Nightclub. Spending three years as an employee at one of MOA’s 522 stores the rumor was that the management team was charging more per square foot than landowners in Time’s Square NY. A new Corona themed complex is going in where the comedy club once was and will overlook the Nickelodeon themed Park at MOA.

    Phase II has been talked about for years, years before IKEA even considered store here. With legislature reluctant to dole out more tax payer dollars to private entities (Twins Baseball and Target Corp) Phase II will probably not happen anytime soon. Of course that was said about Abercrombie building a Ruehl store here, and that’s opening in July!

    I may have missed someone’s comment but the 3rd Floor will be home to major player in consumer electronics….BEST BUY will be opening a full retail store on the 3rd Floor West Garden where SportsAuthority (previously Oshman’s) once stood.

    I visited MOA with my family the first year it was open and I still remember the new paint smell and the mini-golf course. The management is rejuvenating the mall’s interior with fresh paint, and ironically brought back a mini-golf course, Moose Mountain. The original golf course became General Mill’s Cereal Adventure, then Dinosaur Museum, and now another golf course!

  35. This past March, The Park at MOA (formerly known as Camp Snoopy) was renamed Nickelodeon Universe. Apparently, ever since this “new” park opened, admission prices have risen dramatically.

    I really wish that the Mall of America would add another traditional department store to its roster (either via Phase II or by having a one-level department store comprise the entire fourth floor). Although I realize that department stores are on the decline, I think that having just four traditional department stores is way too little for the country’s largest mall.

  36. 1) It looks like Phase II probably won’t happen.
    2) MOA isn’t the largest mall in America, King of Prussia Mall is.

  37. That depends on how you define the largest mall. If you include the theme park MOA is the largest mall in the US, on the other hand if you just talk about retail space then that title goes to King of Prussia.

    I know, this is not as simple as it should be.

  38. That’s why they call it gross leasable area. Unless your putting carts & stores in the back hallways it doesn’t get counted in GLA calculations.

  39. The Phase II renderings look cool (I can send them if someone wants them), although the interior entrances to everything are a little weird. The office tower has entrances on the second, third, and fourth floors. IKEA’s interior exit is on Floor 2, the waterpark entrance is on Floor 3, the Recreation Anchor (Bass Pro) is all four floors, the hotel and the tower both have fourth floor exits.

  40. This is an impressive structure, but ugly architecture. The interior is pretty outdated.

  41. Correction: Mall of America is second only to King of Prussia Mall. In the case of Eastwood Mall, it was derived from an error in the ICSC files that the retail space in square feet covered the mall plus outparcels, resulting in an inflated number.

  42. My Mom actually went into labor with my brother inside SEARS on november 27 1995. I remember my mom saying it was time to my dad while she was shopping for new baby clothes (how ironic) and we had to get a security guard to help get her to the car in the parking ramp and rushed to the nearest hospital (she had him 2 hours later)

  43. My recent visit to MoA shows hasn’t changed very much, but the bad economy is taking its toll. It seems the first and second levels have a few more openings than usual. The fourth level has a new tropical tex-mex restaurant. Nickoloeden has taken over the amusement park, changing all the rides to Nick Toon themes.

    There is a lot of malls along my trek from Bloomington IL to Virginia MN: there’s Cherryvale in Rockford, Janesville Mall, East Towne Mall, Oakwoods Mall in Eau Claire, Ceder Mall in Rice Lake, Mariner Mall in Superior, Miller Hill Mall in Duluth. Virginia has Thunderbird Mall, a tiny half filled place anchored by K-Mart, Dunham Sports and Herbergers. This mall once had a Wards, a JC Penneys, and a Red Owl grocery store.

  44. Today is Mall Of America’s Sweet Sixteenth Birthday, Happy Birthday!

  45. Hey =]
    I absolutley LOVE this place..
    Is there anyway that u could ley me know more info about some of the stores? Thanks.

  46. Just curious, where were Filene’s Basement, Linens ‘n Things, and Kids “R” Us in this mall?

  47. Filene’s Basement went out of business and DSW Shoes is there now. Linens ‘n Things were out of business and Archeiver’s is there now and Kids R Us went out of business and Forever 21 is there now.

  48. Mall of America revises its plans for expansion: The Bloomington megamall says it’s still determined to get bigger, but it may need to do so in phases. The first could come in 2013.

    Susan Feyder, Star Tribune, Minneapolis

    January 26, 2009

    Jan. 26–After failing three times to get the public financing it wanted to pay for part of a $2 billion expansion, the Mall of America won’t be making another pitch to the Legislature this year.

    Instead, it’s considering building the 5.6-million-square-foot project in phases, with a first phase of about 3 million square feet that could be done by 2013. The rest would be delayed indefinitely.

    The change could allow the mall to tap a modified subsidy package passed by the Legislature last year that authorizes the city of Bloomington to impose new taxes to help fund the project. “It’s not enough to support 5.6 million square feet at one time,” said Kurt Hagen, vice president for development at Triple Five Corp., the mall’s owner. The public financing is for a parking ramp and other infrastructure improvements, not for the mall itself.

    The original plans have called for a 300,000-square-foot Bass Pro sporting goods store, an upscale Marriott Renaissance Hotel, a Great Wolf Lodge with an indoor water park, and 1.4 million square feet for about 250 other tenants. A first phase probably would scale back non-anchor tenants to 800,000 square feet, Hagen said, and it would still include a skating rink in the common area.

    It’s unclear how Bass Pro and Great Wolf would fit into the first phase because it must be redesigned.

    The Marriott could proceed, because it’s to be built between Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s on the south side of the existing mall, while the rest of the expansion would be on the north side.

    Hagen said mall and city officials are working together to determine how to design a tax package and how much of the first phase it could support.

    Bloomington City Manager Mark Bernhardson says he’s not sure how long it will take to decide which taxes would be appropriate and generate the required revenue. The city could impose an additional citywide lodging tax of up to 1 percent. It also could levy on-site taxes at the mall, including a sales tax of up to 1 percent, a food and beverage tax of up to 3 percent, and a tax of up to 1 percent on tickets for entertainment venues.

    “Without public financing the chances of doing this are zero,” Hagen said. He said it could take as long as a year to come up with a final development plan for a first phase of the expansion.

    Mall officials hope that by then the credit markets will have recovered so that Triple Five could get private financing for the project. “One thing that gives us confidence is that in 2007 we had several banks that were interested,” said Maureen Bausch, executive vice president for development at the mall. Bausch and Hagen said that’s not the case in the current market.

    Bass Pro, Great Wolf and Marriott would be responsible for financing their portions of the expansion. Representatives of all three said they remain interested in coming to the mall.

    Hagen said Triple Five would handle the balance of the privately financed portion of the planned expansion, which could come to about $1 billion for the initial 3 million square feet.

    Early last year mall officials said lenders would require an equity investment of about 20 percent of the project’s cost. But credit markets have tightened even more since then, and aren’t likely to loosen anytime soon.

    Thomas Crowley, a commercial real estate investment banker with Minneapolis-based Dougherty Funding, said the equity investment requirement now could be as high as 40 percent, or about $400 million of the estimated $1 billion cost. A consortium of lenders, rather than a single financial institution, could wind up dividing up the loan amount.

    The past year has seen commercial real estate developers nationwide struggle under massive debt loads. Little is known about privately held Triple Five’s financial structure. Twenty years ago, it took on partners when the mall was built because it was unable to line up permanent financing on its own.

    Triple Five became the mall’s sole owner in 2006, when it paid about $1 billion to buy out the interests of Simon Property Group and Teachers Insurance and Annuity (TIAA-CREF).

    GE Commercial Corp. loaned $104 million to Triple Five to help it buy out Simon and Teachers, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) documents filed by the lender.

    Deutsche Bank’s website also disclosed a $755 million loan to Triple Five for the mall at about the time of the former partners were bought out.

    Crowley, the investment banker, said lenders for the mall’s expansion probably would require that more than half the space be leased in advance. “They’re lucky they’re not underway right now with the way retailers are collapsing,” he said.

    Area retail experts also say finding new tenants could be a challenge for quite a while because few new and unique retail concepts are being developed.

    “Everybody is so risk-averse,” said Andrea Christenson, a vice president who specializes in retail for the Twin Cities office of Colliers Turley Martin Tucker. She also said some tenants could balk at the relatively high cost of doing business at the mall, where vast common areas require large outlays for security personnel.

    So far that hasn’t hurt the mall, which boasts an occupancy rate of around 95 percent, slightly higher than the average for the area’s regional malls, according to Bloomington-based NorthMarq.

    The mall’s sales in 2008 rose by 2 percent, less than the 7 percent in 2007, but still relatively healthy in the current depressed retail market.

    Susan Feyder –612-673-1723

  49. Has the NY Times gone off the deep end?

    Love Affair With Malls Is on the Rocks

    DEARLY beloved.

    We are gathered here today, in the midst of economic calamity, to ask if we really should be gathered here today, in a funhouse of merchandise designed to send us deeper into debt.

    Specifically, we are gathered in the Chapel of Love, sandwiched between a LensCrafters and a Bloomingdale’s and tucked into a relatively quiet corner of the vast prairie of retail and amusements that is the Mall of America.

    It’s a convenient starting point for rethinking the 50-year marriage between the American shopper and the American mall. Because we’ve been married to the mall for so long that some of us are now getting married in the mall — 5,000 couples in this chapel since it opened 10 years ago.

    And one recent Sunday afternoon, Brianna and Jesse Bergmann are standing here under a white wedding arch, beside an ordained minister, having promised to cherish each other in sickness and in health. There was a homily about forgiveness, an exchange of vows and finally a kiss and some applause.

    Before everyone heads past the Foot Locker and down the escalator to the Rainforest Cafe, the bride — a cherubic 19-year-old — leans against a wall in her billowy white dress and explains why she chose this spot for her big day.

    “I love shopping,” she says, giggling. “Mostly clothing. I love Macy’s, Aero’s, American Eagle, Maurice’s.”

    “I come with her when she shops,” says her husband, a 21-year-old who loads pallets in a food warehouse, “so she doesn’t spend too much.”

    Here, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of the problem: We are reliably informed that whatever part of the economic crisis can’t be pinned on Wall Street — or on mortgage-related financial insanity — can be pinned on consumers who overspent. But personal consumption amounts to some 70 percent of the American economy. So if we don’t spend, we don’t recover. Fiscal health isn’t possible until money is again sloshing into cash registers, including those at this mall and every other retailer.

    In other words, shopping was part of the problem and now it’s part of the cure. And once we’re cured, economists report, we really need to learn how to save, which suggests that we will need to quit shopping again.

    So the mall we married has become the toxic spouse we can’t quit, though we really must quit, but just not any time soon. The mall, for its part, is wounded by our ambivalence and feels financially adrift.

    Like any other troubled marriage, this one needs counseling. And pronto, because even a trial separation at a moment as precarious as this could get really ugly.

    So we have come to this 4.2-million-square-foot behemoth — the mother of all malls, a pioneer in the field of destination retailing, and a sprawling, visceral economic indicator — for some talk therapy with shoppers, retailers and management. We let people vent, grumble and sift through their feelings. They catalog their anxieties, describe their fears and express the surprising varieties of guilt that only dysfunctional relationships can produce.

    “I feel a need to get out there and do the mall thing, because I don’t want the mall to disappear,” says Cookie Tomlinson, who is visiting from Maryland and sits on a bench next to her son near Lego Park.

    Mrs. Tomlinson and her husband are here Christmas shopping for their two grandchildren, who are too young to realize that their gifts are a tad late. “It’s a social experience, being with the grandkids, watching them interact,” she says.

    Her son, Gary Tomlinson, is a computer repairman who wears a black T-shirt that reads, “No, I will not fix your computer.”

    “The mall is tactile in a way that online shopping isn’t,” he says. “So the kids pick out stuff that they wouldn’t pick out if we were at home shopping on the Web.”

    But could you quit the mall if you had to?

    “Yeah, I could quit the mall,” he says. “But I don’t want to see it die.”

    THERE are roughly 1,500 malls in the United States, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, many of them ailing, some of them being converted into office buildings, and others closing their doors for good.

    At Web sites like, the carcasses of these abandoned buildings are photographed and toe-tagged, along with tributes from former shoppers. All this as the worst retail environment in decades continues to sag in a sickly economy.

    But from those overseeing the Mall of America, you don’t hear panic. “We’re bucking the trend,” says Maureen Bausch, vice president for business development. “We always knock wood when we say that.”

    Ms. Bausch has the effervescent, can-do cheer of a small-town mayor, which, in a way, she is.

    Eleven thousand people work at the mall in this suburb of Minneapolis, a five-minute ride from the airport. Forty million visitors arrive here each year, which, according to the mall’s promotional material, is more than visit Disney World, the Grand Canyon and Graceland combined.

    The mall has a seven-acre theme park with 24 rides, an aquarium with hundreds of sharks, an 18-hole miniature golf course, 20,000 parking spaces and 520 retail stores.

    The mall has its own security force and a holding cell, which is run by the Bloomington police. There are 250 video cameras spread around the mall, which Darcy Kwyla, a security systems controller, monitors in a hushed room.

    “You see everything,” says Ms. Kwyla, as she flips from camera to camera with a control panel on her desk. “Sex in the parking lot, a naked guy on drugs walking through the mall, thefts, fights. You name it.”

    Since the mall opened in 1992, there have been a handful of suicides — mostly people jumping from the seventh level of the parking lot — as well a murder and two accidental deaths on the amusement park rides. But you are far more likely to see a TV chef than a crime on the premises.

    Last year, 95 celebrities were limoed here, mostly B- and C-listers like the professional wrestler Bret Hart and Jay McGraw, the son of Dr. Phil and author of “Life Strategies for Dealing With Bullies.”

    “We’re more promotional now than we’ve ever been,” as Ms. Bausch puts it.

    Sitting in her office in the basement, she is explaining how it’s possible that total sales at the mall were up 2 percent in 2008. Even she seems a little amazed by the number, in part because a major highway nearby was shut down during some crucial days in the holiday shopping season.

    Yes, 11 stores closed in 2008, including Hot Dog on a Stick, a clothing retailer named Big Dog, and Wilsons Leather. But 31 new stores opened, among them American Apparel, True Religion and Best Buy, which brought in New Kids on the Block, the reunited boy band, for what the store billed as an “exclusive Best Buy opening performance and autograph signing!”

    Tourist dollars helped. There are 71 Mall of America package tours from 32 countries. And there are special events, like the “Spirit of America” cheerleading competition, which unleashes a couple of thousand cheerleaders in the mall on the weekend we visit.

    But the girls in sparkly mascara, on teams with names like Xtreme Storm, are outnumbered by shoppers. And few of those shoppers are in the mood to spend.

    Here, for instance, are six women from St. Cloud, Minn., waiting for a table outside Ruby Tuesday. They have come for their eighth annual weekend trip to the Mall of America. Four of them are sisters and two are women who married into the sisters’ family, and happen to be sisters, too.

    “Can you guess who the four sisters are?” one asks. (We can, but by dumb luck.)

    They are all splitting a single suite at a hotel, which will cost each of them a mere $16 a night. As they do the math, it’s clear that an unofficial competition is under way for the title of Least Extravagant Shopper.

    “I got this for $25,” says Shannon McDonnel, draping a leopard-pattern scarf around her neck. “From Macy’s. On sale.”

    “That’s not a sale item!” a sister shouts.

    “It is a sale. It was originally $40. No wait, it was originally $34. So that’s a sale.”

    “I spent $36 and got eight items,” says Kyna Reiter. “All of them from Garage, a store I’d never heard of, but it was a great store.”

    “I got a dress from Ann Taylor for $5,” says Meaghan Banes. She also has a burrito from Chipotle in her hands, which she will take into Ruby Tuesday, which means she’ll spend less than everyone else on lunch. So she wins.

    Each of the six women is in a defensive spending crouch for a different reason.

    One woman’s husband hauls new cars, which means he’s on the verge of being laid off. Another’s husband is training to be a police officer, which means he isn’t earning anything now. The couple have been trying to sell their house for a year, hoping that they can downsize to a smaller home, in the $100,000 range. But so far, no one has even asked to see the house twice, let alone made an offer.

    “Have you buried a statuette of St. Joseph in the yard?” Ms. McDonnel asks. (The statue is supposed to bring good luck.)

    “A year ago,” Ms. Reiter says. “We buried St. Joseph a year ago.”

    The black disc that Ruby Tuesday gave them is now blinking and making noise. Their table’s ready.

    “Maybe you should bury St. Jude,” Ms. McDonnel says, heading into the restaurant.

    St. Jude?

    “He’s the saint of lost causes.”

    IF we were actually in couples therapy with the mall, we’d have to confess to something: We have changed, not the mall.

    The economic crisis has caused shoppers to go into an essentials-only mode. But the mall has never trafficked in essentials. You can’t, for instance, fill a prescription at the Mall of America, because it doesn’t have a pharmacy. You can, however, buy a vanilla hazelnut fragrance candle in the shape of a miniature cooking skillet. Or a $13 baseball hat that looks as though it’s made of cheddar cheese. A store called Corda-Roy’s sells a variety of bean bags that convert into beds. Magnet Max sells a battery-operated guinea pig that runs continuously on a spinning exercise wheel.

    And, as ever, the Mall of America is filled with I-dare-you combinations of fast food and entertainment. You can nibble on a carton of Long John Silver’s buttered lobster bites, then ride the SpongeBob SquarePants roller coaster. You can grab an A & W Coney cheese dog and barbecue fries and then take a virtual submarine ride. You can treat yourself to Mama’s Cinnamon Bread Pudding at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and try the flight simulator at A.C.E.S.

    The mall is the stalwart spouse that hasn’t learned any new moves in a decade. It is owned by the Ghermezian brothers, who live in Canada and run a real estate conglomerate called Triple Five. They rarely talk to the media and declined requests to be interviewed for this article.

    Recently, they upgraded the Mall of America’s movie multiplex, and in 2006 they dropped the Camp Snoopy theme in the amusement park after failing to reach a deal with United Media, which owns the rights to the brand. The park is now Nickelodeon Universe.

    But the basic design and sales pitch of the mall are unchanged. The mall is still a huge rectangle, with the stores surrounding the park and the shopping areas divided into four sections — each with its own name, décor and background music.

    As the publicist Dan Jasper explained in an e-mail message, the West Market — the hallway between Nordstrom and Macy’s — is supposed to feel like a European train station and gets smooth jazz. The North Garden, which connects Sears and Macy’s, is lined with trees and lampposts and is supposed to feel like an outdoor park; the retail mix skews toward teenagers and the music is described as “pop contemporary adult hottest hits.” South Avenue collects the upscale, chic stores and pipes in “rock adult album alternative.” East Broadway is supposed to feel contemporary and gets “pop adult contemporary/modern.”

    Despite the different looks, and despite navigation maps on kiosks around the building, you never quite get your bearings. Several stores have more than one location — there are two Nestlé Toll House Cookies spots, for instance, and four Caribou Coffees — which gives you the impression that you’re lapping places you haven’t yet been.

    The mall has skylights but, like a casino, has no windows and not a single clock.

    “Why do we want you to know what time it is?” Ms. Bausch says with a smile. “We don’t want you to leave so we don’t want you to be in a hurry.”

    SPEND enough hours in the Mall of America and you wind up in a sort of fugue state in which the specifics of time and place turn fuzzy. The hope, one assumes, is that you’ll spend more freely in this alternative universe of nonstop distractions.

    It seems to have worked on Consuelo and Steve Ebert, a good-looking couple in their late 30s. In their well-stuffed shopping bags are a sweatshirt, a ski coat, pajamas and a children’s book about Martin Luther King Jr. for their daughter. This after having spent, by their own calculation, more than $1,600 in the mall in the weeks before Christmas.

    At a time when most people are watching from the sidelines, these two are shopping decathletes. So one wonders: What do they do for a living?

    “I’m a 911 dispatcher,” Mrs. Ebert says, “and he’s a fireman.”

    Both have been labeled “essential workers” by the state, and they feel more essential than ever.

    “I take calls from 36 cities,” Mrs. Ebert says, “and for weeks, when the price of gas was at $4 a gallon I would get a dozen calls a day from gas-station managers reporting a gas drive-off” — when a driver speeds off without paying. “We got so many of them that the police finally said that they wouldn’t pursue anyone unless more than $70 worth of gas had been stolen.”

    Mr. Ebert, meanwhile, was kept busy with calls to homes — all of them vacant, many of them in foreclosure — that had been stripped of copper pipes, presumably for sale as scrap.

    “People would smell gas coming from those houses and call the fire department,” he says. “For a while, we had one of those calls every day.”

    These are among the few people with job security — the ones fielding the local distress signals of the American economy. But there are, it seems, far more people making those calls than answering them.

    “There are days now when I make $160 and think I had a good day,” says Mark Classen, co-owner of Just Dogs! Gourmet, a store in the mall that sells, among other items, signs that say “My Labrador retriever is smarter than your honor roll student” and dog treats shaped like fire hydrants.

    “You’d be amazed at how many people are returning things now,” Mr. Classen adds. “I’m going to have to start enforcing my return policy because — well, look at this.”

    He reaches under the counter and retrieves a pair of pink dog shoes called Cozy Boots, size “xxsmall,” which are in a custom-made plastic zip bag.

    “A woman just brought these back,” he says. “The zipper is broken. The cotton in the booties is gone. I can’t sell these again. This keeps happening. Today, every time I got past $300 in sales, somebody brought something back and I was back under $300. Back and forth all day.”

    Mr. Classen isn’t buying the “up 2 percent” line that the mall’s management is bragging about. In fact, you hear a lot of skepticism about that figure from retailers here. (Except for the big ones. Representatives of the mall’s four anchor stores — Nordstrom, Macy’s, Sears and Bloomingdale’s — either did not return calls or said they would not comment .)

    The people who run the smaller operations are chattier — like Derrick Wolf, the co-owner of a kiosk that sells hermit crabs as recession-friendly pets.

    “I’d say we’re staying afloat,” he says. “We’re down over last year, but not to the point where it’s worrying us.”

    Or Felicia Glass-Wilcox, who owns the Chapel of Love. The place has flower sconces on the wall, a “Rod Stewart Unplugged” CD by the stereo and just enough white lacquered pews to seat about 65 people.

    It also has veils, flowers, dresses, guest books — and anything else needed for a wedding ceremony — for sale, in a retail section, adjacent to the chapel. On the day of the Bergmann wedding, Ms. Glass-Wilcox is standing near the cash register, describing the kind of brides-to-be she is meeting these days.

    “We’ve heard it a lot lately and it just kind of kills us, but we have women come in here and tell us they want a dress for $100,” she says. “We have a few that are close to $200, but they’re pretty informal.”

    The retail part of her business is down 25 percent. Fortunately for Ms. Glass-Wilcox, she also offers one of the area’s least-expensive wedding sites, with prices that start at $249, minister included, and go up to $649, with add-ons like a photographer, custom music and Champagne.

    “Thank God for those weddings,” she says. “I make more money on my weddings than I do on retail, so I’m up over all about 10 percent. We’re balancing, but barely.”

    STORES like the Chapel of Love rent space from the Mall of America. (The four anchors have long-term leases and constructed their own buildings.) Everyone here, says Ms. Glass-Wilcox, has a different deal with the mall and she is prohibited from discussing the terms with other renters. Under the terms of some leases, management can tell a store to move to a different space.

    “I’ve been here for five years and they’ve told us to move six times,” says Sarah Ertresvaag, an assistant manager at Tiffany Collection, a lamp store that is closing in a matter of weeks. There are “50 percent off” signs all over.

    “The shortest move was 10 days,” Ms. Ertresvaag says. “We moved in, they said somebody else wants the spot, and we moved out.”

    This is a revelation: Even the retailers have an uncertain marriage to the mall. And the harder that times are, the trickier that relationship becomes.

    Ms. Ertresvaag says she doesn’t know when the store will actually close, or even what is moving in to replace it. There have been rumors of a restaurant; someone else claims that a labyrinth for children is planned. She is just relieved to have another job lined up, one outside the mall.

    Come March, she’ll manage a gas station.

  50. Mall of America patron alleges discrimination: The Mall of America is facing a federal lawsuit over the tactics used by its counter-terrorism security unit.

    Mary Jane Smetanka

    May 7, 2009

    In a federal lawsuit filed this week, a Minneapolis man who says he was merely sitting on a Mall of America bench waiting for a lunch date alleges that security guards questioned and harassed him and then called Bloomington police for no reason except that he is black.

    A mall spokesman said the complaint of discrimination is “absolutely false,” though he acknowledged that a security guard who was part of a specially trained counter-terrorism unit questioned the man because of “genuine concerns regarding this person’s actions.”

    The man, Bobbie Allen, filed discrimination charges with the state’s Department of Human Rights, which determined there was probable cause to believe that Allen was a victim of discrimination.

    The suit says that Allen, now 44, went to the mall in June 2007 to meet a white female friend for lunch. The woman, an employee of a mall store, had to work longer than expected. Allen used an ATM machine, bought a cafe mocha and sat on a bench, where he drank coffee and wrote in his journal.

    Soon a mall security officer approached. In her incident report, the suit alleges, the officer said she told Allen he had been randomly selected for a survey. But she wrote in her report that that was not true and that she had been watching Allen for 15 minutes because he was a “suspicious person” who had been talking to a female, writing in a notebook, looking around at people and looking at his watch.

    The security officer asked Allen questions including his name, his friend’s name, where he liked to shop and what coffee he liked best. The suit says Allen was “startled and offended” but answered the guard’s questions. When the officer began to ask for personal information about Allen’s friend, he told her he was uncomfortable with her inquiries and suggested she was asking only because he is black. He told her that he had nothing else to say.

    Allen’s friend arrived and verified that she was his friend and that they had a lunch date. She returned to the store to finish her shift. But the security guard continued to question Allen, who answered her questions.

    The officer called her supervisor for backup, and both questioned Allen, who “was becoming concerned and was afraid to leave the bench with the officers around him,” according to the suit. Bloomington police were called and asked Allen for his ID. He gave it to them, and police told him to let the security officers do their job and left.

    The suit says Allen was afraid for his safety because he was surrounded by four standing officers. It says he tried to explain that he had done nothing wrong. More than 30 minutes after Allen was approached by the first officer, his friend joined him and security officers allowed the pair to leave for lunch.

    The suit, which seeks damages of more than $100,000 for severe embarrassment, humiliation and mental distress, alleges that Allen was a victim of discrimination because he is black. Other people lingering on benches in the area, including a white man, were not bothered, the suit says.

    In a statement, mall officials denied the suit’s allegations. Dan Jasper, the mall’s public relations director, said discrimination is not tolerated at the mall.

    Jasper said the security guard was part of a counter-terrorism unit called Risk Assessment and Mitigation (RAM). RAM officers are trained in “behavior detection techniques” to identify suspicious people, and Jasper said the guard was responding to Allen’s actions.

    “We must be on guard at all times,” Jasper said. “Our officers have an obligation to investigate anytime they see what they believe is a suspicious activity, even if that activity turns out to be benign.”

    I realize that these security guards have a job to do & there’s always to sides to every story but a little common sence is in order. If writing in a Journal & wating for an employee who is late constitutes a need for counter-terrorism officers for questioning then I begin to wonder about how well this unit was trained.

  51. lol that mall is sooooooo totally cool cant what to go

  52. hi
    I been to mall of America several time and specially over thanks giving holidays I saw offiecers hitting or teenagers than doing their job
    I feel the security staff is raceist and I saw them questioning blacks and minorites than others for no obvious.

    I think that Mall Of America securtiy staff are sons of whores …what a disgrace to many of us… looosers working in the best mall of the world

  53. The Mega-Mall is big, but if you want retro you gotta see BURNSVILLE CENTER in (where else) Burnsville, MN. Software Etc., Orange Julius, 1 Potato 2 Potato, and (until recently) B. Dalton. The video game arcade is called TILT.

    I am not making this up. It’s a thriving mall that’s a time capsule from 1980!

  54. That did not help what so ever!

  55. hey this place is great i hang out with my daddy here when i get to see him… i dont get to see him very often so its great

  56. I will never go to mall of america ever again. I was falsly accused of steeling in 2002. I was harrased by security and was put threw alot of embarrasment. I was only 16 and when i prove myself innocent after showing my reciept I was never giving an apology for it from no one. Just a stupid look of O I guess she wasn’t steeling. Now I am in college writing a paper of this horrible experience. Wishing my parents had the money to sue the mall. No 16 year old should have to experience something like that.

  57. Let’s do a little armchair developer with Phase 2. Money and space being no object, what would you include? Here’s a partial list for me:
    Hotel (check, due to be completed by end of 2012)

    Another retail expansion with preferably a southern based anchor (i.e. Belk or Dillard’s). It’s the only geographic region not represented with an anchor.

    Adding a Bass Pro Shops. Not only does it help the “destination” aspect of MOA, but it brings a MN vibe to the mall.

    Adding a Lucky Strike Lanes.

  58. @Andy, How about a hypermarket for everyday needs, anew cinema to replace the current theatre, Governmental offices & some housing complexes including condos & townhouses. This way you can create an entire community around the mall with all the needs for daily living at foot distence.

  59. OK, a hotel or two, connection to the IKEA, a waterpark, a Bass Pro Shops, a second cinema, performance theater, dinner theater, a musuem, Bass Pro Shops, and themed areas, like a new clubs section, and others with titles like Designer District, Canal Street, Town Center…oh wait, those are the original plans. Never mind.

  60. Hi… I live in the Twin Cities, and I haven’t been to the Mall of America since 1996. Too crowded, expensive, and too big. I even know some people who *GASP* haven’t even been to the Mall of America. I guess the novelty has worn off; I compare it to living in Orlando (where Disney World is located)… The magic and novelty isn’t there when you live near these tourist attractions. That’s just my opinion. Regarding the fourth floor eating and entertaining establishments… There was a Planet Hollywood that had one of the cars used in the movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (the red sportscar that Ferris and his friends used to drive to Chicago) that was hanging from the ceiling. Planet Hollywood is now closed at the Mall Of America.

  61. hi
    I been to mall of America several time and specially over thanks giving holidays I saw offiecers hitting or teenagers than doing their job
    I feel the security staff is raceist and I saw them questioning blacks and minorites than others for no obvious.

    I think that Mall Of America securtiy staff are sons of whores …what a disgrace to many of us… looosers working in the best mall of the world

  62. Does anyone have any pictures of the Eastwood Mall in Niles during the late 70’s-80’s? I grew up there & also remember the mural in the theatre-with the old movie stars. Also the fountains & lighting. I cannot find anything like this online!

  63. Any pix of vintage Eastwood Mall would be much appreciated!!!

  64. A marvel in shopping complexes is how i can best describe it. Something of that size would not fit where we shop here in New Zealand. I visited the giant mall back in 1998 when i was over there in MN with my job. Hopefully i will be able to show my wife in person should we get the opportunity to travel to the US in the near future.

  65. Megamall flourishing in a weak economy
    Article by: THOMAS LEE , Star Tribune Updated: September 24, 2011 – 11:05 PM

    Nickelodeon Universe and other Mall of America draws help boost sales and traffic.

    America may be struggling, but the Mall of America is doing just fine.

    Actually, better than just fine. Despite a weak economy, high unemployment and waning consumer confidence, the mall is thriving, thanks to its Nickelodeon theme park and the purchasing power of upper-income shoppers flocking to stores like Nordstrom and Michael Kors.

    Sales at Mall of America retailers through August are up 9.4 percent compared to the same point in 2010. Traffic is up 5 percent. By contrast, comparable retail properties posted an average 3.3 percent sales gain in the same period, according to data from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

    “It’s a premiere property,” said Mark Schoening, senior vice president of national retail for Ryan Companies in Minneapolis. “And malls with good locations and good anchor [stores] are still doing well.”

    Even in 2008 and 2009, in the teeth of the recession, the Bloomington mall eked out sales increases of 2 percent and 1.5 percent respectively. Last year, sales at mall retailers surpassed $1 billion for the time, thanks to a strong 7.5 percent sales gain.

    “If you can trudge through the recession without stepping back, don’t stick your head in the sand, you will come out on the other side ahead of where you went in,” said Maureen Bausch, the mall’s executive vice president for business development. “If you see these results, you clearly see we came out of the recession far better than when we went in.”

    The Mall of America’s resiliency is even more striking given the headwinds facing malls and large shopping centers across the country. More consumers are purchasing items online, through their PCs, smartphones and tablets. Throw in high gas prices, and shoppers are making fewer trips to the mall.

    “You can make a lot of your [shopping] decisions without having to go to the mall,” said Devon Wolfe, managing director of strategy and analytics services for Pitney Bowes Business Insight. Retailers are being asked to “pay for expensive real estate just so consumers can try on things that they later buy on the Internet.”

    ICSC forecasts chain store sales to grow 3.5 percent during the holiday shopping season but predicts shopping center sales will increase only 2.2 percent. ShopperTrak said sales in November and December will rise 3 percent but foot traffic will actually fall 2.2 percent.

    So far this year, shoppers visited an average of 3.1 stores per trip, down from 3.19 in 2010 and far less than four to five stores in 2008, before the recession, according to ShopperTrak.

    “The persistently high unemployment and fuel rates along with consumers’ conservative purchasing attitudes will affect spending this holiday season more than in recent years,” said ShopperTrak co-founder Bill Martin. “Every shopper in a store will be more valuable than last year, and retail stores should be ready to convert their holiday shoppers into sales.”

    Higher-income shoppers

    Much of Mall of America’s sales growth has been driven by higher-income shoppers, specifically women ages 25-54 and men ages 18-24 and 45 and above who make more than $100,000 a year.

    “Luxury is coming back really well,” said Cynthia Groves, senior managing director of consulting for Newmark Knight Frank, a real estate services firm.

    The mall has especially benefitted from its anchor tenants, including Nordstrom and Macy’s, two upper-scale retailers performing well right now.

    So far this year, Nordstrom said total sales at stores open for at least a year have jumped 6.9 percent, including 7.9 percent for the regular Nordstrom stores (the company also owns Nordstrom Rack). Macy’s, which operates a regular Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s at the mall, has posted same-stores gains of more than 5 percent.

    The Mall of America also has made extensive renovations to South Avenue, where most of the mall’s higher-end shops are clustered. In addition, the mall has added such luxury retailers as Michael Kors and Superdry to a group that already includes Hugo Boss and Armani Exchange.

    “The better the store, the better sales increase,” Bausch said. “We’re finding people are investing a little bit more in items of higher quality. They aren’t frivolous items. If they are gong to buy a handbag, they are going to buy a handbag that will last them four years.”

    Another big asset for the Mall of America: Nickelodeon Universe. Since opening in 2007, the country’s largest indoor theme park has averaged about 8.5 million rides a year. Camp Snoopy, Nickelodeon’s predecessor, averaged about 7.9 million rides over its lifespan.

    While mall officials declined to release specific sales figures, they said annual revenues from the Nickelodeon park are running about 18 percent higher than Camp Snoopy’s final three years — mostly because of higher ticket prices.

    Eager to exploit the park’s popularity, the mall has run a promotion that offers shoppers two unlimited ride tickets (about $60) if they spend at least $250 anywhere else in the mall. The promotion has helped drive sales for retailers throughout the mall, officials say.

    Experts say attractions like Nickelodeon help destination malls like Mall of America stay relevant with consumers. The mall also has expanded its number of movie screens and plans to build a skating rink and 4,000-seat theater.

    “Having an experience at the mall is much more interesting if I’m [low on cash] than just buying something on the Internet,” Wolfe of Pitney Bowes said.

    Nevertheless, the Mall of America’s strong numbers prove people “want to consume if they can. We’re still a material-orientated culture,” he said.

    Bausch, however, said the economy continues to worry her.

    “We have got to get people back to work,” Bausch said. “It takes a lot of people to move this economy. I’m a little nervous.”

    Come November and December, which accounts for 20 percent of annual retail sales, “we’re going to be promoting like heck,” she said.


  67. @rob, MOA showcases what a mall can do if managed properly. Not just on the corporate level, but on the local & governmental levels as well.

    Bloomington has been supportive of MOA & the returns to the city cant be mesured. Now compare that what Clarkstown NY first did with Palisades & then Nanuet. Palisades had restrictions on what parts of the complex could be occupied. Secondly the town wasn’t proactive once it was obvious that Nanuet Mall was failing.

    Another thing to look at is how an unknown city in the shadow of an international airport that had only a handful of overseas flights was instantly transformed into one of the countries fastest growing suburbs. Along with MOA came more flights from such places as Japan, Europe & Canada as well as aditional hotel rooms, supermarkets, big box stores, housing units & other public services.

    As a footnote Delta Airlines has a hub at MSP & has had international flights there since the 1980s when it was Northwest. Most of them go to Tokyo, Osaka, Lundon, Frankfort & Amsterdam.

  68. @Christine,

    The Rotunda is on the east side of the mall. Underwater World is on the west side.

  69. @Jessy S., Uh, nope. Underwater World (which goes by another name now) is on the east side of the mall along with the rotunda and the transit station.

    I live 10 minutes from the mall and am very familiar with it.

  70. ok whats replacing Bloomgdales. THIS IS MY FAV MALL EVER. is it being expanded.

  71. Mall of America will double in size after $2.5 billion expansion.

    The nation’s largest indoor mall will undergo a $2.5 billion, 10-year expansion project that will add attractions like an NHL-sized skating rink and an indoor water park.

    Triple Five Worldwide, owner of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., has kicked off construction work on a $2.5 billion, 10-year expansion project that will double the facility’s size and add attractions like an NHL-sized skating rink and an indoor water park.

    The development is part of a plan to draw millions of additional visitors each year, with 300 new retailers, hotels, more events space, and entertainment destinations like the water park, according to a Pioneer Press report.

    Work on roadways surrounding the mall began recently, and the first phase of the building expansion is expected to start this fall. This initial, $250 million project will expand the mall to the north, adding three levels of retail space for about 50 tenants.

    The mega-mall attracts some 42 million visitors each year. Triple Five Worldwide expects the expansion will draw an additional 20 million patrons. The mall will receive assistance from the state in the form of a $250 million tax break, according to the report.

  72. Mall of America launches $325 million expansion
    By Tom Webb, St. Paul Pioneer Press on Mar 19, 2014 at 7:13 a.m.

    BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — In a shower of confetti, Mall of America on Tuesday launched a $325 million expansion aimed at adding glitz and new elements of luxury to the nation’s largest mall.

    The expansion will add a new Food Hall, underground valet parking and another 50 to 75 retailers, mostly aimed at upscale shoppers.

    It will also add a second atrium — “bigger than the one we’re standing in today,” said Kurt Hagen, senior vice president of mall owner Triple Five Worldwide, at Tuesday’s groundbreaking, which was moved indoors because of weather.

    The expansion also will add a 342-room luxury JW Marriott Hotel and a seven-story office building designed to attract distinctive high-profile tenants.

    On an even grander scale, the expansion kicks off a 10-year plan to nearly double the size of the mega-mall, eventually pushing it to the north, filling up the old Met Sports Center space, now a vast parking area.

    “As far as what’s to come, we have big plans — we always have,” said Paul Ghermezian, whose family corporation owns the Bloomington mega-mall.

    Mall of America already attracts some 42 million visitors a year, ranking it among the nation’s most popular attractions. Eventually, mall officials hope to bring 60 million visitors a year to the expanded mall, and shift the balance so that tourists outnumber locals.

    While the distant future — a world-class indoor waterpark, more department stores, an indoor skating rink — are still years away, the expansion launched Tuesday paves the way for those later additions, officials said.

    “This is another step toward that,” Hagen said. “We’ll continue to grow north.”

    This expansion, along with futures ones, is partly financed by a $250 million tax break that Minnesota legislators and Gov. Mark Dayton approved last year.

    The $325 million addition kicked off Tuesday has several parts, with slightly different timetables.

    “The retail will open in August 2015,” Hagen said. “The hotel will be about two months after that, and the office will probably open two months after that. So it’s kind of sequenced. Obviously, retail will be first, but it’ll all be open by the end of 2015.”

    Those new elements include:


    A third-floor Food Hall will replace the existing north food court. The current food court will remain in place until the summer of 2015, but then it will be removed and the food offerings upgraded.

    Today’s expanse of tables dominated by fast-food options will be replaced with more specialized food offerings, officials say. Styrofoam containers and plastic forks will be gone, too.

    “You’ll eat on real plates, use real silverware, and the ambiance will be much different in there,” said MOA Vice President Maureen Bausch. “We’d love to do cooking classes in the new common area.”

    Added Ghermezian: “Imagine walking into a new modern restaurant, where you have beautiful finishes, beautiful chairs, but you have multiple food experiences. Calling it a food court wouldn’t do it justice, but it’s not a restaurant.”

    Mall officials aren’t revealing the 12 tenants in the Food Hall, but Bausch said a handful of existing food court tenants will carry over to the new space.


    The expanded retail area will have room for 50 to 75 new tenants, Bausch said. MOA isn’t saying which retailers are coming because leases haven’t been signed.

    But it intends for the first floor to be aimed at “unique/upscale retailers,” the second floor emphasizing home furnishings, and the third floor dedicated to food.

    The new stores will ring an oval-shaped atrium that feature a glassy roof to bring in sunlight. Ghermezian calls it a “beautiful event space” that will attract even more events to MOA.

    “We have over 350 events at Mall of America today, and there are a lot of events we can’t do because of the size,” Ghermezian said. “This allows us to do these larger events, and the marketing guys are just going crazy about it.


    The 14-story, 342-room JW Marriott hotel will rise on the mall’s northeast side; it will be owned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. This would marks the debut in this market of Marriott’s luxury brand.

    For most of its 20-year history, Mall of America had no hotels on its property. But then last year, Radisson opened its high-end Radisson Blu hotel on the mall’s south side.

    “The Blu has been a fabulous addition to the mall,” Hagen said. “We found that 95 percent of the guests at Blu shop at Mall of America … and I think 42 percent of them spend over $500 at the mall.”

    Mall officials expect the same from the JW Marriott, which will have the largest ballroom in Bloomington.


    A 10-story building will also rise on the mall’s north side, west of the hotel, with the upper seven floors dedicated to offices. But not just any offices, Hagen said.

    “It will be multiple tenants,” he said. “We are really looking to attract national or international companies who can leverage being attached to Mall of America, as opposed to a local Class A office building in a suburban market where you’ve got accountants and lawyers.”

    Hagen added, “We’re trying to find tenants in marketing, advertising, retailing, who would bring in guests from around the country, stay in the hotels, dine in our restaurants and shop in our mall.”


    The mall’s second floor will also include a new International Tourism Center, designed to give the mall’s millions of foreign visitors an easier entry to the mall, with services like taxis and tours offered nearby.

    Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction is providing building and development for the expansion project.

    Bausch said the overall theme of the expansion was to improve the Mall of America experience, to keep it fresh and interesting and unique for visitors who have endless options online.

    While still popular, many traditional U.S. shopping malls have struggled lately from the weakening of department store anchors, a glut of low-priced competition and the growth of online shopping. Almost no new enclosed shopping malls have been built in the United States in the past six years, placing MOA’s expansion plans against industry trends.

    Still, MOA has steadily boosted traffic and sales by adding attractions that people can’t get online, and that go beyond stores selling stuff. Lately that has included a new exhibition space featuring exhibits based on Barbie and the TV show CSI; new restaurant and dining options; a nightly light show; and performance venues like 400 Club and the Hard Rock Cafe, both opening this summer.

    “It’s about the experience, because our biggest competitor is this” — Bausch said, waving her smartphone in her hand.

  73. I use to like going to this mall this place has turned into just a giant warehouse for clothing stores does not have much of anything else to spend the time and gas to go here for its not interesting.

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