Mall of America Phase II Expansion
My life has always been close to the east side of Bloomington, MN. For the last 15 years or so, the People of Praise has had their headquarters there. I went to middle and high school at Trinity Schools in the same building. And now, I work just a mile away from there. Of course, though, the big presence in the area is the Mall of America, one of the largest enclosed malls in the United States. According to their press site, "With 40 million annual visitors, MOA has more visitors than all other attractions in the state combined and nearly 10 times more visitors than Minnesota's second biggest attraction, Cabelas® in Owatonna."
The expansion will be add 5.6 million square feet to the north end of the existing mall and will apparently be more open and let in more natural light than the original structure. The plan includes more parking structures and a skyway connection to the nearby IKEA. The expansion will integrate seamlessly with the current mall and connect to it on all four floors (including adding connections to the near-dead fourth floor).
A number of major structures are included in the mall plans. One of the main tenants is Bass Pro Shops, a major national outdoor sporting goods retailer. Major entertainment provider AEG will be building a 6,000-seat performing arts amphitheater. Some information says something about an NHL-size hockey rink, and I don't know where that's going to be located. The plans also leave room for an office tower and a couple hotels attached to the complex, including a family waterpark/hotel.
The new space seems to be designed to have different districts or areas of shopping, most of which look a bit more high-priced and trendy. The fourth floor seems to be devoted to entertainment attractions such as a movie theater, dinner theater, nightclubs, etc. According to the designs, there's also a "High Fashion District" and a "Home District". The main event looks to be a very open "Town Square" area, which looks like it may even mimic Times Square a bit. A central corridor of the new expansion is called "Canal Street" and is rumored to be a Venice-style center completed with gondola boats and everything. The plans also show an environmentally-friendly co-generation facility that will generate some heat and electricity for the building.
The annoying part is that there's no news as to when this will be implemented, although the mall's Wikipedia article says groundbreaking is supposed to happen in Spring 2007. The Wikipedia article also cites some concern from "outside forces" such as the city of Bloomington who are concerned about the ability for the $1.78 billion project to be completed. A state bill that aims to make the building construction tax-exempt seems to claim that construction will start in 2008 and finish up in 2011.
There are a number of improvements to the mall that seem to be a bit closer to reality and completed sooner. One is the reintroduction of a bar on the vacated fourth floor in the form of Cantina Corona, a Mexican bar/restaurant that is the first-ever place to bear the Corona brand. Also planned is the very high-end Klimpton Hotel near the south end of the mall. And finally, The Park at MOA will soon begin construction of a Gerstlauer Euro-Fighter type roller coaster, to be completed in 2008. These style of rides are some of the most cutting-edge and the mall says it will be the first upside down roller coaster at the Mall of America. Nice!
I always like the pictures and diagrams, so below are the floor-by-floor plans off the website:
Model Views (from the City of Bloomington site):
View from West:
View from East: