Mall of America's mega-expansion to take it upscale

The humongous shopping mecca is set to double in size, starting with an addition targeting customers with income of $100,000 or more.

By Aimee Picchi Jul 10, 2013 12:26PM

Shoppers walk around the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota on Feb. 25, 2012 (© Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Got an annual income of at least $100,000? Then the Mall of America is planning an expansion just for you. 


The gigantic shopping destination is planning a hugely ambitious $2.5 billion project that will about double its size. The already cavernous facility will add as many as 300 stores, a water park and an NHL-size skating rink, the Pioneer Press reports.


But the first step in the plan is a $250 million addition geared to what the mall calls "upscale" customers: people with annual household incomes in the six figures, as well as families with "older children," according to the mall's website. 


That would mean a significantly wealthier clientele for Mall of America, where 38% of shoppers earn less than $75,000 annually, according to the mall's published statistics. Retailers there now include Coach (COH), Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) and Nordstrom (JWN). 


The ambitious expansion for Mall of America, already a top destination for visitors to nearby Minneapolis-St. Paul, highlights the growing importance of shopping tourism. The mall's growth plan was helped by a $250 million tax break from Minnesota, whose lawmakers were drawn in by the potential to lure even more tourists and create more jobs, the Pioneer Press notes.


The high-end addition will bring in 50 new shops and a tony food hall. One victim of the overhaul will be an existing food court, which isn't too surprising, given that most don't scream out "luxury."


"Nobody has food courts anymore. They have food halls, and you want interesting partners with fresh bread and cheeses and wines," Maureen Bausch, Mall of America's executive vice president, told the Pioneer Press.


The first phase will also include a new luxury hotel and an office tower. The mall is also overhauling its existing space, adding skylights to bring in more natural light and removing carpeting and other fussy elements. 


Much of the new look results from changes in mall design in the decades since Mall of America's 1992 debut. As Bausch told the Press: "In 1990, it was all about 'theming,' so people knew where they were. . . . Now the school of thought is you give them a white palate, a canvas, and you let the retailers provide the color."


One thing that hasn't changed is Americans' love for ginormous malls. 


Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.


More on moneyNOW

21Comments
Jul 10, 2013 3:35PM
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We have household income of over 100,000 and still can't afford "luxury" items. Let's see between mortgage, school loans, one car pymt, utilities, insurance, gas, food and setting what we can in savings there is no room for “upscale shopping”.

Jul 10, 2013 4:10PM
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Hmmm.....planning a $250 million upscale expansion, after receiving a $250 million tax break from the state.

 

Coincidence?

 

(Who's really paying for this?)

Jul 10, 2013 3:25PM
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Does anyone remember the article this past spring about MOA releasing ladybugs?  I wonder how that's working out.  I love going to MOA, especially when I have accumulated a bunch of disposable income. I wonder if  the new expansion will have gates to keep the peasants out? 
Jul 10, 2013 12:53PM
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What else is there to do when the temperature outside is -10?
Jul 10, 2013 5:05PM
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More people spending money they don't have. It's sad we have changed from an industrial economy to a retail economy. Story after story about people unprepared for retirement financially and yet the retail economy wants you to spend more on stuff you'll throw out in two years. Have discipline people and save for retirement. Do not whine when I am retired and you are still working.

Jul 10, 2013 2:30PM
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Proof the Taliban won't shop at Walmart.
Jul 10, 2013 3:13PM
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The mall was a great place to visit. Good luck in the new reincarnation.
Jul 10, 2013 5:11PM
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It could certainly use a higher class of people for sure... I've only been there once on a flight layover to Iceland, but immediately upon entering the mall I was greeted by the sight of some super-sized trailer park cellulite changing the diaper on its phuck trophy right in front of everyone on an open bench seat. Meanwhile two more of its offspring heathens were running around barefoot and screaming while beer belly Bubba, who may or may not have fathered at least one of them, daydreamed about sucking down another 1500 calorie frozen concoction from Starbucks.  Apparently he had just finished one or two judging by the discarded food & drink containers littering the floor around him.  The entire scene was pretty appalling...
Jul 10, 2013 3:53PM
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Yea, with our socialist controlled legislature wanting to add sales tax on clothing, this will be a bust!
Jul 10, 2013 4:05PM
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Mall of America is a great place to visit and shop. I want to detail the steel for these new additions.
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