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Southdale Center

Southdale Center
View of the center court
Location Edina, Minnesota
United States
Address 6901 France Avenue South
Opening date October 8, 1956
Developer Dayton Company (now Target Corporation)
Management Simon Property Group
Owner Simon Property Group (50%)
Architect Victor Gruen Associates
No. of stores and services 124
No. of anchor tenants 4
Total retail floor area 1,300,000 sq ft (120,000 m2)
No. of floors 4
Website Official website

Southdale Center, colloquially known as Southdale, is a shopping mall located in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. It opened in 1956 and is the oldest fully enclosed, climate-controlled mall in the United States.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] As of 2011, much of the original Southdale structure is still in use, as well as later additions to the building.

Southdale Center is currently 23% vacant, which is considerably less than the 38% vacancy rate from 2011.[8]


  • History 1
  • Southdale today 2
  • Anchors 3
    • Former anchors 3.1
  • Entertainment 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Southdale Center was developed by the Dayton Company and designed by Victor Gruen, an Austrian immigrant and socialist.[9] Gruen was a European-style socialist; he found individual stores in downtown venues to be inefficient, and the suburban lifestyle of 1950s America too car-centric and wanted to design a building that would be a communal gathering place, where people would shop, drink coffee, and socialize, as he remembered from his native Vienna. He modeled Southdale on the arcades of European cities.[10][11] In his plans for Southdale he placed the shopping center at the center of a 463-acre (1.9 km²) development that was also to comprise apartment buildings, houses, schools, a medical center, a park, and a lake. Southdale was not to be a suburban alternative to downtown Minneapolis, but something more complete, better thought out. Gruen wanted an atmosphere of leisure, excitement, and intimacy. To achieve this he placed works of art, decorative lighting, fountains, an aviary with 50 types of birds, tropical plants, and flowers throughout the mall. However, Gruen's vision for development around the shopping center was not achieved.[12]

External video
Buildings that Changed America #8 Southdale Center, WTTW,[12]

Groundbreaking for Southdale took place on October 29, 1954. 800 construction workers were needed to build the three-story, 800,000 ft² (74,000 m²) center, which had 5,200 parking spaces and 72 premises for tenants and cost $20 million.[13] The mall was developed by the Dayton Company, owners of Dayton's department store in Minneapolis and predecessor to the Target Corporation. A branch of Dayton's would anchor the mall along with Donaldson's, Walgreens Pharmacy and Woolworth. When the mall officially opened on October 8, 1956, the opening drew over 40,000 visitors.[9]

After a visit in November, Frank Lloyd Wright, during a speech to the local Citizens League, mercilessly criticized the mall design by saying, "The garden court has all the evils of a village street and none of its charms." (He criticized all of the downtown Minneapolis buildings, as well.)[14]

It was envisioned that Southdale would become a hub not just for the residents of the city of Edina, but for the greater Twin Cities area, surpassing downtown Minneapolis. The creators of the center understood that consumers increasingly demanded convenience and variety. The mall was designed to provide many services under one roof. These services included a Post Office, a grocery store, an upscale apparel store and a small zoo. The IDS Center and its attached Crystal Court in the central Minneapolis business district helped the downtown area reclaimed its focal status.

Over the years, Southdale has been the venue of gem, boat, and fine art shows, and charity and community events. Southdale was the host site for an episode of the television game show Truth or Consequences.

Southdale today

The former Trendz on Top Area located on the Third Level

Southdale Center boasts close to 1,300,000 square feet (120,000 m2) of space throughout the original building and later additions. Dayton's original store was gutted in 1991 and turned into more mall space, as a new Dayton's was added. It would convert to Marshall Field's in 2001, and to Macy's in 2006. Donaldson's later housed a Carson Pirie Scott, then a Mervyns; this space, spanning 179,090 square feet (16,638 m2) on four levels, was left vacant after Mervyns closed in 2004. The space remained unoccupied until January 2011, when decisions were made to fill 133,000 square feet (12,400 m2) of the 179,000-square-foot (16,600 m2) the vacancy with a Herberger's store.[15] The store opened November 9, 2011.[16]

In 2002, Southdale Center took on a new look with the completion of two projects: Trendz On Top, an area composed of stores aiming toward teenagers, and The District on France comprises retail, entertainment, and dining. Plans for the mall's continuing 2011 renovation include a new twelve-tenant food court on the second floor of the JCPenney wing.[17]

Southdale hosted a premiere of the Will Smith film "Seven Pounds" on December 12, 2008, which Smith attended after first speaking at a local school and visiting a children's hospital.

In 2011, Southdale announced the start of a multimillion-dollar renovation that would include a new food court, a housing development consisting of apartments and condominiums, and expanded retail without adding on to the mall's present structure.[18] The biggest change to the mall would move the third floor food court, which was 80% vacant at the time, to the JCPenney's court on the opposite side of the mall on the second floor. These moves forced many tenants to move as well, or close their doors, including the mall's oldest tenant, Ralph's Shoe Shine, which opened in 1957.[19] The expanded retail consisted of tenants, such as Kay Jewelers, See's Candies, Sperry Top-Sider, Michael Kors & Vera Bradley, that opened in summer 2013. The former food court has since been turned into a large occupancy Dave and Buster's restaurant.[20]


Former anchors

  • Dayton's Department Store name changed to Marshall Field's in 2001. When Marshall Fields' parent, May Co., was sold to Federated Department Stores, then parent of Macy's, the store was rebranded as a Macy's in 2005.
  • Donaldson's name changed to Carson Pirie Scott and later moved out of Southdale, then a branch of Mervyn's a mid-price department store (a California chain acquired by Target Corporation) occupied the space until Mervyn's closed due to bankruptcy in 2004 and the space was left vacant and occasionally served as a short term Halloween store and a location for Feed My Starving Children special events. Herberger's opened a branch store in the location in November 2011.
  • Marshalls Closed in 2013 and moved to a nearby location. A discount clothing store named Rhea Lani's filled the space until Gordmans in 2015.[23]
  • Walgreens (remodeled into other stores)
  • Woolworth's (remodeled into other stores)


See also

  • The Galleria, located across the street from Southdale Center, is an upscale shopping mall that opened in 1976.
  • Mall of America, located in nearby Bloomington, MN, is the largest shopping mall in the United States.[24] To an extent, the construction of the Mall of America was an impetus for the expansion and remodeling of Southdale Center, as owners worried that Southdale's business would suffer as a consequence of the opening of the former.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "From Settlement to Suburb: The History of Edina, Minnesota" by Paul D. Hesterman (1988)
  7. ^ "Shopping Towns, USA: The Planning of Shopping Centers" by Victor Gruen and Larry Smith (1960)
  8. ^  
  9. ^ a b "40,000 Visitors See New Stores; Weather-Conditioned Shopping Center Opens".  
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Retailing Birth, death and shopping", The Economist, December 19, 2007
  12. ^ a b "#8 Southdale Center". 10 Buildings that Changed America. WTTW. 2013. Retrieved December 12, 2013.  Webpage features include a photo slide show, video from the televised program (5:11), and "web exclusive video" (5:18).
  13. ^ Malcolm Gladwell, The Terrazzo Jungle, The New Yorker, March 15, 2004, Accessed June 12, 2009.
  14. ^
  15. ^ [4], Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal
  16. ^ [5], Minnesota Star Tribune.
  17. ^ [6], CBS Minnesota.
  18. ^ Buchta, Jim. "A first look at the luxury apartments under construction at Southdale Center".  
  19. ^ "Southdale's oldest tenant Ralph's Shoe Service said he was forced out".  
  20. ^ Halter, Nick. "Dave & Buster's signs lease for Southdale Center". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  21. ^ Halter, Nick. "Southdale Center lands new anchor retailer". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 26 May 2015. 
  22. ^ "Basement Level Current Web Lease Plan - Southdale Center, a Simon Mall" (PDF). Simon Malls. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  23. ^ Vomhof Jr., John. "Marshalls to leave Southdale, move down the street". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved November 17, 2013. 
  24. ^ Largest Shopping Malls in the United States

External links

  • Official Southdale Website
  • The New Yorker on Gruen and Southdale
  • James Lileks' "Flotsam Cave" (features vintage photos of the mall)
  • The indoor mall turns 50.
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