Saturday, August 5, 2017

Mall of America, Bloomington (Minneapolis), MN

     I know you saw that I was heading to Minnesota and thought something. You've heard the rumors, and they were sorta true. And this is what you have been waiting for. The biggest fish. And as you skip ahead to find the unpicked meat, I will tell you something. This is it. This is the crown jewel of my trip. This is the crown jewel of that reading you knew you would do that night. This is everything you wanted. Everything. Everything will be good after reading this article on this mall. Now let's not get carried away here.
     The Mall of America. Even the name sounds like something found out while daydreaming in the shower. And it's something pretty ironic, given that Mall of America truly sounds like a dank one-story mall with a couple of anchor vacancies, dead Radio Shacks, and elderly mall walkers. Along with this is an Amazon distribution center next door. Maybe fidget spinner kiosks would be located down the central mallway (this will be great to look at ten years later). In the food court, there would be plenty of vaporwave playing with 80's mall commercials only seen in drunken dreams or Dan Bell videos. But instead of the living 2010's American mall, we have America's largest mall, a practical (for being large, it's pretty walkable) four-anchor mall surrounded by office buildings.

We start this one off with a directory photo. Electronic directories in these megamalls are making this job a little harder. That "End" store is the Nike Store, knowing you were curious about that. While this is only one floor, it shows the general layout and anchors.
     Despite being such a large mall, the history is pretty simple. In 1956, Metropolitan Stadium was constructed in the undeveloped suburb of Bloomington, Minnesota, to be used by the Twins and later the Vikings. The Beatles, minor league baseball, and pro soccer would come later. The stadium was sadly closed in 1981, and operations were moved to downtown Minneapolis' Hubert H. Humphrey MetroDome, which would be destroyed thirty years later. Further operations for the Vikings were at the US Bank Stadium and the "Twinkies" would move to Target Field. The Met was demolished in 1985.

     News first surfaced in 1985 of the proposed Fashion Mall of America. The Ghermezian brothers, creator of North America's largest mall, West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Canada, were to be the mallmaker of America's largest. Of course, two brothers couldn't do all of the designing, so they would make the regrettable move of snagging Indy-based Melvin Simon and Associates to help out. Pairing these news was a meeting between the brothers and the Bloomington Port Authority. Another meeting was done a year later with the folks of Niagara Falls, New York, thirteen miles north of Buffalo. Niagara Falls authorities couldn't piece an economic package, and the mall was given to Bloomington, MN. To much excitement, groundbreaking was accomplished June 14, 1989.

     Original plans included a 65-screen moviehouse, a 5-star hotel, 125 restaurants, waterpark, saltwater aquarium, and a submarine ride. The original name was to be Fashion Mall of America, but most started calling it the Mall of America. These plans were all scaled back, and only some are in the planning process.

     Quite the scare happened when it was found out that parts of the mall were being constructed as others were being planned. The project kept going on, and continued to do so. Further planned had already decided the proposed four anchors. Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and Carson Pirie Scott were penciled in as anchors. These anchors were slightly altered, with Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Sears, and Macy's being the final plans. Dedication was done August 11, 1992.

     At its opening, the center had 4.2 million square foot mall had four Sunglass Huts, and two Taco Times, Sam Goody's, Panda Expresses, and Cajun Cafes. The mall also had its own zip code and 18-hole mini golf course. The mall was divided into four "streets" and three floors, with four on the east and south wings. The four streets were the South Avenue, West Market, North Garden, and East Broadway. Each had their own niche, from catering to the youth, upscale, Times Square, and middle-market. In the center was then-Knott's Camp Snoopy, a park based on Charles Schultz' comic characters.

     Even though competition was high and the economy was not, MoA had a very strong start. By then, locals had a lil' fun with the mall. Plenty of nicknames were thrown around, including "Hugedale," as a homage to the Gruen dales of Minneapolis. This was a laugh for the locals, as MoA was the epitome of "tourist trap."

     Proverbial trouble in paradise would come in 1999. A dispute was started when Simon purchased TIAA's stock in the mall, giving them majority. The brothers were never informed, and a court battle ensued. Federal court favored the brothers, and they won. The brothers won back planning and management control. The Ghermezians would later win full control of the mall by spending $1 billion dollars. Only shortly after the court case, Knott's Camp Snoopy was ousted because of licensing problems. Nickelodeon Universe would take over shortly after, and changed the rides to fit their characters.

     Expansion talk came in 2007, attempting to utilize an IKEA built across Lindau Lane. A dinner theatre, waterpark, three hotels, an ice rink, and two anchor stores with Bass Pro having already been signed. So far, a new food court leading with a stub into the proposed expansion has only been done, completed in 2015. Bloomingdales was closed in 2012, with LL Bean, Forever 21, and Crayola Experience taking up the space. If all goes well, Sears will be a Von Maur by 2020.

Here's the aforementioned food court. Tenants are still filling up.
     One thing I love about this mall is the attention to detail. Bordering the mall to the south is Killebrew Drive, which was renamed for the late Twin and Baseball Hall of Famer. On other Killebrew terms, there is a lone seat on the inside wall of the theme park. This marks where the longest home run at the Met was hit, by Harmon Killebrew. Near Nordstrom on the first floor is a Flight 93 memorial. Also in the theme park, there is a home plate marking where the Met's was.

     While I apologize for no real commentary on the mall, there is truly not much to say about this mall. It's huge and full of tourists. Imagine your normal successful mid-market mall but make it four times the size. hat's really all I have to say, and these photos.

There is the very famous logo welcoming forty-some dads with Hawaiian shirts.

Nordstrom court is my personal in-mall favorite court. 

And now we whisk back to the much more familiar Southern malls of mine.

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