Simon Property Group has reached a tentative agreement with Hennepin County to move the Southdale library branch into the Southdale Center mall in Edina.
According to an April document submitted to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, the county would pay $562,600 a year to rent 57,700 square feet of space at the site of Herberger's, which closed its doors last year.
Under the proposal, Simon would demolish the Herberger's building and construct a new one for the library.
The new building could house other tenants, too, but county officials were unable to say which when reached for comment Monday afternoon.
"Everyone across the nation is trying to figure out what to do with malls and mall spaces," says Hennepin County Commissioner Marion Greene. "In a way, the library brings its own activity. The library had been standalone and had plenty of traffic, and I anticipate that will continue."
This isn’t the first time county services have been moved to Southdale; in 2016, county leaders opted to move the Hennepin County Southdale Service Center into the mall.
Margo Geffen, the county’s facilities services director, says the county and Simon have drafted a non-binding letter of intent, which outlines the rough terms of the lease.
“I see that the mall is pursuing some different things,” says Interim Library Director Janet Mills, referring to other proposals to add a fitness center and living space to the mall. “For us, this is really an opportunity to connect with some patrons and residents we might not normally connect with.”
Hennepin County will host two open houses this month and next to share site renderings with the public. The decision will be put to a final vote sometime in June.
County officials believe the move could actually return part of the mall “to its original purpose.” In the April board action request, county officials note that the original plan for the mall included space for a town hall, police department and library.
The proposed new library branch would take up about 4.2 percent of all available space in the 1,366,178-square-foot mall. At the end of December, Southdale was nearly a quarter vacant, with 308,000 square feet of available space remaining. The mall has the highest vacancy rate of any in the Twin Cities metro, TCB reported earlier this month.