The largest shopping mall in America could be getting much larger very soon. The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is proposing a $200 million expansion to the “megamall” which would include retail space, another hotel and possibly a medical facility.
Since the mall opened in 1992, there have been several proposals to expand the mall. One such proposal was to connect the mall to the Met Center, the hockey arena that once stood across the street from the Mall of America and housed the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars. That plan failed, the North Stars eventually moved to Dallas and the arena has been demolished.
In 2006, officials at the mall unveiled a massive expansion that also stalled. Officials are still planning the expansion, but in smaller segments, according to a report from the Saint Paul Pioneer Press.
Since the mall opened, Bloomington has rapidly become a sprawling city; and almost acts as a third downtown to the Twin Cities. The Twin Cities’ Blue Line light rail (formerly Hiawatha Line) ends at the Mall of America.
Currently, a Radisson Blu hotel is being built on the south side of the mall; and will be connected by an enclosed skywalk. As part of this recently proposed expansion, another hotel would be built. It is unknown what chain the hotel will belong to. According to the Pioneer Press article, the hotel chain will ultimately decide the hotel’s size and room occupancy.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN has expressed interest in occupying any medical office space that could be added as part of the expansion. Kurt Hagen, an executive with the group that operates the mall told the Pioneer Press, "Mayo is focused on a wellness facility here. They're not focusing on a hospital."
And of course, the expansion would include more retail space-three floors of additional retail space. The mall currently has three floors of retail space that houses over 400 stores. The current mall also has a fourth floor which went dark several years ago. When the mall opened, the fourth floor was considered the “entertainment” floor. Bars, arcades and a movie theatre were just some of the attractions.
As time went on, establishments closed, eventually leading to virtually no traffic on the fourth floor, except for the movie theatre which is still open. In recent years, there has been a revival of activity on that floor as new establishments have opened. The fourth floor has been re-done with new tile and new signage.
The mall has become a city within itself. Among its stores, the mall boasts convenience stores, restaurants, salons, a church, a wedding chapel and an amusement park. It is projected that some 40 million people a year visit the Mall of America.
At any rate, it would seem that any further expansion to the Mall of America would give a boost to Minnesota’s economy; and would create jobs.
If all goes according to plan, the project could begin as early as next year.