The changing face of America's oldest mall

The Southdale Center is a hotbed of new developments.
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The Southdale Center arguably hasn't been this inundated with construction traffic since the months before it became America's first enclosed mall in 1956.

The expanse of land in and around the mall has become a hotbed for new development, the latest of which will soon see the building of a Shake Shack on the corner of France and West 66th Street.

A proposal from the popular gourmet burger chain was first revealed in August, and a plan construction of the 3,800-square-foot eatery was given the go-ahead by the Edina Planning Commission this past week.

The Star Tribune reports it'll now go before the full city council on Wednesday, Nov. 8, and if approved, it will become only the second location in Minnesota – the other being at the Mall of America.

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But it's just one of several under construction or planned developments on the edges of Southdale's home between France and York avenues to the west and east, and West 66th and West 70th streets to the north and south.

Southdale as it looked in 1956.

Southdale as it looked in 1956.

At its northeast corner, at York and 66th, work is currently underway on a new 146-room Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel, which is expected to open early fall 2018 in what is a joint venture between Atlanta-based Noble Investment and Southdale Center owners Simon Properties.

The hotel, which will also include an indoor pool, lobby bar and outdoor cooking areas, will occupy the northeast of the Southdale parking lot, while at the opposite end – the southwest corner – plans are afoot for a massive Restoration Hardware complex.

The furniture retailer revealed earlier this year renderings of the 58,000 square foot showroom with a cafe and wine vault, which the Business Journal reported would be complete with a rooftop patio at the corner of France and 70th.

With Shake Shack occupying the northwest and the luxury apartment complex One Southdale Place opening on the southeast in summer 2014, the historic mall is well covered on all corners at a time where other malls are increasingly searching for relevance in an age increasingly dominated by online retail.

Plans for the mall itself

The Life Time Fitness proposal for Southdale.

The Life Time Fitness proposal for Southdale.

But redevelopment isn't just limited to Southdale's periphery.

The troubles of JCPenney, which closed at the mall earlier this year, has led to opportunity for Lifetime Fitness.

The local gym chain was revealed to be in talks with Simon Properties about transforming the now closed JCPenney section of Southdale into a 120,000 square-foot gym and fitness center, complete with a beach club, basketball center and indoor pool.

The project is in its early stages with more details expected to be revealed, but ClubIndustry reports it's slated to open in early 2019.

It's attracting apartment builders

As more commercial developments flock to Edina, apartment builders are taking more of an interest in Southdale as a real community hub.

No longer a place only accessed by car, Finance and Commerce reported the One Southdale Place developers built the complex with the idea its residents would walk to Southdale and the nearby Galleria's retail and restaurant options rather than drive.

On the north side of West 66th Street, work is underway to tear down office blocks and replace them with a two-phase apartment project known as the Millennium at Southdale.

The Avenue on France was approved last December.

The Avenue on France was approved last December.

Last December plans for The Avenue on France – on the west side of France Avenue opposite Southdale – were approved, which will eventually see the building of a medical office building, shops, apartments and a hotel.

There would be even more construction in the offing, had plans for a $250 million condo project at 69th and France not been rejected by the city last month amid concerns over the height of the two condo towers.

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