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Jaden

Mall of America

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The megamall, phase II

Terry Fiedler and Mark Brunswick, Star Tribune

February 16, 2005 MOA20216

Developer Nader Ghermezian has never been one for understatement, and he didn't disappoint Tuesday when he announced plans to essentially double the size of the Mall of America with a $1 billion addition that would include a casino bigger than Mystic Lake, a 6,000-seat concert hall and NHL-sized ice rink.

"You won't have to fly to Rodeo Drive or New York City or Italy," he said. "This will make Bloomington and the Twin Cities the biggest tourist destination, bar none, [and] make the Twin Cities an international convention center."

The proposed Mall of America casino, dubbed Palais De Jeux, would occupy 200,000 square feet on the top floor of the proposed four-story expansion. The addition would connect to the north end of the mall, between current department store anchors Nordstrom and Sears.

Nader GhermezianCarlos GonzalezStar TribuneGhermezian shared his plan for Phase II at the Mall of America last week with Bloomington city planners. City Council members got copies of the plan Tuesday. He held a news conference before a meeting at Bloomington City Hall that addressed the issue of a possible state-sanctioned casino in the city.

The timing of Ghermezian's announcement infuriated members of the Bloomington legislative delegation, who hosted a town hall meeting that drew about 200 people. Rep. Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, has sponsored a bill in the Legislature that would require a referendum for voters to approve a casino in any city in which it would be located.

Architectural renderings of Phase Two"They're grandstanding. There is a process that has to go through with the city and that obviously hasn't happened," said Sen. Bill Belanger, R-Bloomington. "I'm getting sick and tired of all these secret meetings that are going on. It's time government should be out in the open again so people can watch it again."

The casino would occupy about 5 percent of the proposed 4 million-square-foot expansion, but Ghermezian said that he considered it key to the development and that if it wasn't approved by the state the project would need to be substantially changed.

Ghermezian's Triple Five Corp. developed the Mall of America and is currently its 50 percent owner and managing partner, though it remains locked in litigation with its partner, Simon Property Group, which previously managed the the 4.2 million-square-foot shopping center.

Ghermezian said there was no better site in the world for a casino than the Mall of America. He also noted that the casino at his company's West Edmonton Mall in Canada has blended well with retail and other entertainment options there.

A publicity kit distributed by Triple Five included a letter from Edmonton, Alberta, Mayor Stephen Mandel, which stated that the casino at the West Edmonton Mall was a "clean and safe gaming facility" that had "operated without incident for 10 years."

Rep. Dan Larson, DFL-Bloomington, who represents the district that includes the Mall of America, described the Ghermezian's move as "public relations spin," saying a casino at the mall would increase crimes such as drugs and prostitution, with much of the cost to be picked up by the city.

"We don't want people all around the world coming here and saying, 'What happens in Bloomington, stays in Bloomington,' " he said. "We don't want Camp Snoopy to become Camp Sleazy."

Asked about his discussions of the casino with the governor, Ghermezian declined to comment. Bill Griffith, a lawyer who represents Triple Corp., said the company incorporated a casino into its plans after the governor went public with his idea of a possible new casino.

The casino would take a bite out of the business at Mystic Lake in Shakopee. At its last expansion in 1993, Mystic Lake said gambling space would double to 84,000 square feet -- about the size of a new Cub Foods store -- and the size of the entire entertainment complex would nearly triple to 375,000 square feet.

Ghermezian would not discuss what subsidies he might seek for Phase II, other than to say he would pursue whatever was "appropriate."

Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead downplayed the significance of the expansion announcement, describing the plans as "very preliminary" and "strictly conceptual," which he said could be subject to change from the Legislature and from city influence.

In some ways, the new Phase II plan is a blast from the past. In 1986, Nader Ghermezian envisioned that the mall, among other things, would have a hockey rink and a replica of Paris' Champs Elysees.

The latest proposed expansion, on the site of the old Met Center, would include an NHL-sized ice rink that would be open for public skating and ice shows. It also would include a atrium walkway with shops and cafes meant to look like the Champs Elys

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My!  A billion dollars just so people can go shop in chain stores.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The goal of this expansion isn't to attract all chain stores so teenage kids can waist time and their parents' income. The developers are looking to attract conventions, music performances and other attractions so that businessmen and women, suburbanites, and others throughout the country and world (along with their kids) spend money. I don't know if you're familiar with the Twin Cities, but the Mall of America is about a mile away from the MSP International Airport (15th in the world for passenger traffic) and is under 10 miles from downtown MInneapolis, which has an additional 3 million sq. feet of retail space, but most importantly a convention center that attracts business people from all over. These three destinations are now connected via light rail so, it would be stupid not to take advantage of it.

Preliminary plans:

Two 12 story hotels (600 rooms / 460,000 sf)

Two 14 story hotels (900 rooms / 700,000 sf))

Casino (220,000 sf)

Cinema / entertainment (220,000 sf)

6,000 seat concert hall / performing arts center (200,000 sf)

Two high fashion department stores (514,000 sf)

Three European fashion boutiques (380,000 sf)

Ice rink / event center (30,000 sf)

Shops / international cuisine (1,000,000 sf)

Entertainment level expansion (140,000 sf)

There will also be a tram that will transport people from the light rail station into the new addition and an indoor golf course as well.

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It's currently the 2nd biggest tourist destination in the country, and it not because 42 million people want to go shopping at The Gap. <_<

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I stand corrected. Phase II sounds as if it could be a nice tourist destination. I am generally against the construction of Malls, but possibly this is appropriate for the Twin Cities area.

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I stand corrected.  Phase II sounds as if it could be a nice tourist destination.  I am generally against the construction of Malls, but possibly this is appropriate for the Twin Cities area.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't think it's appropriate for any area.

Seriously, even though the Minneapolis-St. Paul area has an extreme climate, there are still plenty of people willing shop downtown Minneapolis, Uptown Minneapolis, Grand Ave. in St. Paul, and other urban (and not so urban) areas. However, if this massive dump decides to expand with upscale shopping, which it presently lacks, a casino and hotels, the outdoor, urban shopping experience will seize to exist.

Once again, keep in mind that millions of people do enjoy living here so it doesn't bother most to have to walk outside in order to do some shopping. Also, as I stated before, other than some Bloomington city officials, gamblers, and those that love malls, most people here do not approve of this planned expansion. Let's just say it has some major obstacles to get around before it happens.

BTW, thanks for deleting all the nonsense Metro.

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Hmmm, the Mall of America more popular than the entire city of Las Vegas (about 35 million out-of-towners visit here each year).... not sure about that one. Maybe 43 million refers to the total number of visits and not individual people every year.

Anyway, I'd love to visit Minneapolis some day and check out the sights! Sounds like a really cool city.

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I love Minneapolis but man I hate the Mall of Ameria. And man I HATE CASINO's.

Doesn't anyone else here think that downtown Minneapolis with the skyways etc is a much cooler shopping destination?

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So I was in MPLS a few weeks ago! Wonderful city! Mall of America was amazing! Wasnt Lenox Square, Houston Galleria, or Copley/newbury st. but it was nice.....i loved downtown also with all the skywalks....its too bad that the Saks there was downgraded to an Off Saks...but the Neiman and the Macy*s was rather nice!

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