Preliminary work to expand the Mall of America is beginning.
The Pioneer Press reports that construction to pave the way for $2.5 billion in additions and improvements has started in Bloomington. Heavy equipment is at work on Lindau Lane. The roadway between the mall and Ikea is being lowered so that future expansion can cross the busy road.
Long discussed expansion plans got a boost when the Legislature approved a $250 million tax break for America's largest shopping mall. Now a multi-phase, multi-year development is moving off the drawing board.
This fall, construction begins on a $250 million addition that will add 50 new shops, an atrium, exhibition space and an upscale Food Hall. Construction is slated begin on a second hotel. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community has signed a provisional agreement to own the 330-room luxury lodging, tentatively identified as a JW Marriott. The project also includes a medical office building and more underground parking.
"The overarching goal is to always keep the attraction fresh and continue to enhance it," said Maureen Bausch, Mall of America's executive vice president. "That's what Disney and all the great attractions do."
Phase 2 plans call for the mall to move north into the former Met Center parking lot. The shopping behemoth will double in size, adding as many as 300 new retailers along with attractions including a skating rink and a water park.
Annually, 42 million visitors come to the Mall of America. The Phase Two expansion is projected to draw 20 million a year more.
"I can foresee us probably opening a new development every year for the next 10 years," said Kurt Hagen, senior vice president