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Mega-more: Ceremony notes the doubling of the Mall of America

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The wintry weather didn't cooperate with the groundbreaking for the massive expansion at the Mall of America, but hey, who needs to be in the elements when you're the world's largest indoor shopping mall?

The Star Tribune reports that instead of putting shovels in dirt outside the Bloomington mall, dignitaries made do with a confetti toss in the snug, dry, windless indoor rotunda. MPR News reports the Mall of America expansion plan is expected to cost $325 million, and will represent the largest construction project since the mall opened in 1992.

Tuesday's kickoff focused on the addition of a 342-room, 14-story luxury JW Marriott hotel. When it opens in October 2015, the hotel will have direct access to the mall, and feature a full-service restaurant and bar, grand lobby with a bar, a fitness center, pool, meeting space, executive lounge and a ballroom. KSTP reports the development will also add underground parking and a mixed-use complex. The project, called Phase 1C, will include office and retail space, along with the 10-story MOA Crossing office building, to be constructed atop a new multi-level parking garage on the north side of the mall.

The expansion will more than double the space of the existing mall. Mall officials hope to attract between 50 and 75 higher-end stores, along with restaurants and a food hall. A larger rotunda called the Atrium will be added as well. Completion of the retail component is scheduled for August 2015.

Maureen Bausch, the mall’s executive vice president of Business Development, said discussions are ongoing with prospective tenants, including those with a home, men’s, mid-luxury and luxury focus.

“There are so many retailers who are currently not in the market who want to be here,” she said.

Earlier this month, mall owners closed on the financing for the first phase of the expansion, which the Pioneer Press notes is all about adding luxury and glitz to the center. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community will help finance a portion of the project, which includes $34 million in tax increment public financing for service roads, utilities and parking.

About 1,000 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase of the project, and 2,500 permanent jobs from retail, hotel and office operations. The Mall of America hosts more than 40 million visitors annually.

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