By Scott Carlson
Dolan Media Newswires
Minneapolis — Mall of America officials plan to spend several million dollars over the next four years on makeovers for the public corridors of the mall’s four major wings.
Construction workers for the retail and entertainment center in Bloomington have begun the project on the first and second floors in the mall’s south corridor. The first-phase project is expected to be completed by early July.
The renovation will include replacing carpets with tile along the 600-foot walkway and redoing the ceilings to incorporate chandeliers that are seven-and-a-half feet square and 22 feet long.
“We are trying to stay fresh and be strong coming out of the recession,” said Rich Hoge, Mall of America director of construction and technical operations.
For the first corridor makeover, Hoge said the mall wants to create an ambience that attracts upscale tenants. Contractors will install floor tile produced by Italian-based Daltile, line the ceilings with Barrisol stretch fabric and install chandeliers made of Swarovski Strass crystal.
Even before construction began, the Mall achieved its goal. Mall officials expect to have nine new, upscale tenants for the south corridor within the year, said Maureen Bausch, mall executive vice president of business development. Signed tenants include Lulu Lemon, Soma Intimates, Hugo Boss, Betsey Johnson and Francesca’s Boutique, all which are expected to open before the end of this summer.
This isn’t the first time that Mall of America has undertaken a major update. In 2003-04, the mall spent $24 million on new paint, carpeting, furniture and lighting fixtures. The mall, which opened in 1992, also spent more than $20 million to renovate its indoor amusement park, now known as Nickelodeon Universe, about two years ago.
Other major projects have included remodeling the mall’s third-floor restaurant area, which now includes Crave and was finished in early 2009.
“Reinvestment is really what it is all about,” Bausch said. “If you don’t do that, you can’t stay current.”
Bausch explained that attractive common areas and a strong mix of existing tenants play a big role in drawing new tenants who, in turn, are attracting more shoppers.
For the new project, the mall hired New York-based Gabellini Sheppard Associates LLP to handle architectural and interior design. Twin Cities-based KKE Architects, which the mall has used on many previous projects, is assisting in the new renovation.
The general contractor for the project is the Minneapolis office of PCL Construction Services; Krech O’Brien & Mueller & Associates of Inver Grove Heights is the structural engineering firm for the south corridor renovation project.
In a few weeks, the first-phase project will employ upwards of 50 to 70 construction trades workers including electricians, sprinkler fitters, tile setters, HVAC mechanics, glaziers and plumbers.
Bausch said the second corridor improvement, the so-called east avenue, is scheduled for early 2011.