Nation’s biggest mall getting bigger

A $325 million expansion underway at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., promises to make the 4.2-million-sq.-ft. retail institution even more of a destination.

The expansion will include space for 50 new retailers, a 342-room JW Marriott hotel, a 180,000-sq.ft. office tower, new dining options, a tourist welcome center and large event space. All three levels of the mall’s north side will be extended in the most significant construction project at a property that opened in 1992 and today attracts 40 million visitors annually. Roughly 1,000 construction workers will be involved in the project which is expected to be completed by next fall.

"This is a major milestone for Mall of America," said Paul Ghermezian, COO of Triple Five Worldwide, the mall’s operator. "For more than 20 years, it has been our dream to increase the size of the mall, firmly establishing it as a world renowned attraction. Today, I couldn't be more pleased to say that dream is becoming a reality,” Ghermezian said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

"Mall of America is an iconic retail and entertainment destination known around the world," said Tom Lander, vp of Mortenson Development, the construction company chosen to build the project. "We are pleased to be the development and construction partner for this important expansion and once again work with the mall as it continues to focus on delivering a world-class experience here in Minnesota."

The JW Marriott will be a 14-story, 342-room hotel with direct access to the Mall. As one of Marriott’s flagship properties it will included a full-service restaurant and bar, grand lobby with a lobby bar, fitness center, pool, and extensive meeting space that includes a grand ballroom. It also will offer an executive lounge and underground parking which comes in handy during Minnesota’s winters..

A 180,000-sq.-ft. Class-A office complex is also a part of the expansion plan. It will be home to a mix of national and international business tenants that will be located atop a new multi-level parking garage, providing direct access to the Mall. It also is located near the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport and light rail transit.

"Mall of America has been an industry leader and top destination for years," said Kurt Hagen, SVP of Triple Five Worldwide/Mall of America. "We have accomplished this by continuously reinventing ourselves, always providing new and relevant retail and attraction options. With more than 40 million visitors annually this expansion will allow us to offer guests even more world-class lodging, dining and shopping.”

The mall is already home to more than 520 stores, Nickelodeon Universe, the nation's largest indoor family amusement park; the 1.2 million gallon SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium, a 14 screen movie theater and Moose Mountain Aventure Golf.