The front page of the May 24 business section the StarTribune featured an article titled Face-lift for Edina’s venerable Southdale mall by Steve Alexander. Some excerpts:
Southdale is getting a makeover, and the city of Edina is helping to pay for it. A $19.1 million renovation of the nation’s oldest enclosed shopping mall announced Thursday features redesigned entrances, a dining pavilion, a new play area and a change in decor from floor tiles to lighting…
Funded by a $5.1 million interest-free loan from Edina and a $14 million investment by mall owner Simon Property Group of Indianapolis, the face-lift is designed to make Southdale competitive with the metro area’s other regional malls…
Edina city officials will fund the $5.1 million loan for the project with tax increment financing, in which the money is recouped from presumed future increases in property taxes in and around the mall that are related to development. Scott Neal, Edina’s city manager, said the loan represents a low risk to the city because the terms say that if the city’s increased tax revenues aren’t enough for the city to make the annual payments on the $5.1 million loan, Simon will make up the rest. Simon Property Group originally offered to invest about half as much in the renovation of Southdale, but increased it to $14 million after city offered the loan.
Dec. 9, All Things Considered on NPR: Maryland County Rethinks The Shopping Mall
Like other suburban areas, Montgomery County, Md., is wondering what to do with aging shopping malls like White Flint. The solution may be a radical redesign that makes malls look like the things that suburbanites once ran away from: urban downtowns.
Edina Patch has a story with many photos titled: Herberger’s Takes ‘First of Many Steps’ Toward Southdale’s Revitalization
Hundreds of eager shoppers lined up inside of Southdale Center Wednesday morning, Nov. 9, all for a first-hand glimpse at the mall’s new tenant. They jockeyed to be the first customers to walk the pristine interior of the new Herberger’s department store, housed in a three-story, 135,000-square-foot retail space that sat vacant for seven long years. It’s the sixth Herberger’s store in the Twin Cities.
[Edina] Mayor Jim Hovland said he could not thank Simon Development and Herberger’s enough for working to create "something that’s extraordinarily beautiful."
"This mall is going to be restored to its former glory," Hovland said, to applause from the crowd of shoppers. "Between Herberger’s showing their faith and leading the way and Simon Development agreeing to put an extensive amount of remodeling into this mall, we will once again be the best mall in America."
Edina City Manager Scott Neal was at the Herberger’s opening and has a blog post about it.
In yesterday’s St. Paul Pioneer Press: New owner Simon Properties hopes to turn around Southdale by Tom Webb.
But now, a turnaround is finally under way at Southdale. Its new owner, mall giant Simon Property Group, is investing in the Southdale property and addressing long-standing problems. It has signed key tenants, most notably new anchor Herberger’s, which this November will fill the 140,000-square-foot hole left vacant since Mervyn’s went out of business five years ago.
Recently, the mall announced more new tenants, including Michael Kors, the designer and "Project Runway" judge who will open a store later this year, and Francesca’s Collections, a women’s boutique to open early next year. "It’s starting the process of Southdale’s transformation," said Laurie VanDalen, Southdale’s manager. "We expect to have some more tenant announcements as we get into the final part of this year and into next year."
Retail Traffic magazine published a lengthy, in-depth article back in May titled Return of the Mall by Elaine Misonzhnik, Associate Editor.
The article includes quotes from Richard Sokolov, president and COO of Simon Property Group, "the Indianapolis-based REIT with the largest regional mall portfolio in the country" and the owner of Edina’s Southdale Center.
At the time, many believed the [regional mall] format had outgrown its usefulness and was out of step with modern customers… The list of grievances was long.
Malls were too large.
Their temperature-controlled environments were too artificial.
Department stores—the original conceit around which the concept was developed—were not the draws they once were.
Mall parking lots were too sprawling and mall parking garages too arduous to navigate.
Formats like power centers, lifestyle centers and mixed-use facilities were newer, hipper and more convenient.
And, of course, there was the constant growth of internet retail, which continues to slowly eat away at traditional retail channels…
But a funny thing happened over the past three years. As the Great Recession unfolded, regional malls—rather than being pushed to the brink—weathered the storm better than any of their supposed replacements. The very things that made fortress malls seem so outdated—their size, their enclosed environments, their dependence on anchors—proved to be powerful assets instead.
Malls were also meant to be more than just shopping venues—when Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen designed Southdale Center, the world’s first enclosed regional mall in Edina, Minn. in 1956, he envisioned the property as the center of its community, a place where people would socialize and hold public events. Over the years, the mall, with its temperature-controlled environment, its public plazas and its movie theaters, has evolved as a reliable hangout spot for teenagers and a place where adults could go to do some people-watching and de-stress.
Some owners have also started exploring bringing in non-retail uses such as health care and education facilities to the peripheries of their malls, to drive additional foot traffic. “I think the traditional four-anchor regional mall will disappear,” says Moore. “And the mall will cater instead to the trendy, interesting things the consumers want to do.”
That means that over the coming years the regional mall will largely retain its physical shape, but the collection of tenants within its walls will become a hybrid of the most successful components of all retail property types. In addition to visiting Victoria’s Secret and the Gap and spending an hour or two at the multiplex, mall shoppers will be able to dine at a full-service restaurant, entertain their kids at a bowling alley, browse house wares at a big-box store and do their grocery-shopping in the course of a single trip under one roof.
These two articles, written by reporter Katie Mintz, appeared recently in the Edina Sun newspaper.
May 12, 2011: Southdale Center officials, Edina City Council meet to talk public funding
City and Southdale Center officials are working toward a plan to renovate the nation’s oldest regional shopping center. The Edina City Council met with representatives from Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, Inc., Tuesday, May 3, during a special work session.
The city council previously discussed the company’s request for $5.3 million in public financial assistance as part of an approximately $30-million overhaul of the 55-year-old mall.
May 4, 2011: Edina officials discuss State of Community
[Mayor] Hovland said a $32 million renovation planned for Southdale Center is also a step in the right direction. He said mall owner Simon Property Group, Inc., has approached the city about being a partner in the project. City leaders must discuss if providing public financial assistance to the mall would be a subsidy or an investment.
“It is the most significant commercial property in our city,” Hovland said. “It is the lynchpin for the entire Southdale district. We understand all of that, but we have to look at this with a mindful eye toward efficient use and effective use of public funds.”