Maplewood Mall Owners Hope for Local Buyer
Exterior shot of the Maplewood Mall melissamn / Shutterstock.com

Maplewood Mall Owners Hope for Local Buyer

The Maplewood Mall, which anchors Maplewood’s North End, may soon change hands once again after a February auction.

Maplewood Mall will go up for auction this February, less than a year after its last sale.

Nashville-based Brookwood Capital Advisors, the property’s current owners, bought the mall in June for $27.5 million from Simon Property Group, a spinoff of Washington Prime Group which filed for bankruptcy in 2021.

In the months since, Brookwood filled the space with 30 new vendors and kiosks, including non-traditional vendors like a medical academy that teaches people looking to become phlebotomy technicians, said Lydia Chernitsky-Hamd, leasing director for Maplewood Mall.

“The retail landscape has shifted so dramatically to where, no matter where we are, it’s always our goal to diversify our businesses in all ways,” she said. “Bringing in service businesses [is] fantastic because we often see that service businesses last and remain strong no matter what the economy looks like. Everyone will eventually need a hair cut, right?”

Bidding starts Feb. 15 with a starting bid of $7.5 million, according to the listing. Chernitsky-Hamd says Brookwood hopes the space will go to a local buyer. It is hard to say how much Maplewood will go for in the auction process, but she believes it won’t be sold at a loss.

As a retail development company, Brookwood rarely holds assets for very long, Chernitsky-Hamd said. The company focuses on either filling vacant leasing opportunities or redevelopment of properties before putting a space back on the market.

“With redevelopment, the goal is always to enhance and bring back in the local community,” she said. “I really think these centers are only as strong as the local communities invested in it.”

While the future of the mall remains unclear, Maplewood has floated various ideas over the years. The city has had an adopted vision plan for the mall and its environs since 2019. But it will ultimately fall on property ownership to determine the mall’s future.

At this point there’s been no indication on who might be interested in buying the property, city manager Melinda Coleman told TCB.

“Would there be local business people looking at that? There might be but I haven’t heard from anybody that that’s the case,” Coleman said.

Malls are part of the fabric of the Twin Cities. Southdale Center in Edina was the nation’s first indoor mall, opening its doors in 1956. Now, the area also has the Galleria in Edina, the Rosedale Shopping Center in Roseville, and several more.

And, of course, there’s the Mall of America, which remains the largest mall in the country. The more than three decade old mall is an example of what large-scale shopping centers are becoming. It’s well-known that much of the traffic to big box stores has shifted to online. But experiential businesses like gyms, hair salons, restaurants, and amusement parks make going to the mall about more than just shopping. It’s about an experience.

Maplewood could perhaps follow a similar pattern.

The Maplewood Mall and St. John’s Hospital anchor the city of Maplewood’s North End, an area that serves as major generator of economic activity for the region. From Fall 2018 to Summer 2019, a North End Working Group composed of 26 people who live, work, or own property in the North End met six times to guide the creation a North End Vision Plan. The plan was adopted in September 2019.

The plan states that the future of Maplewood Mall is key to the rest of the North End and its ability to attract investment and support redevelopment. “The retail industry is rapidly changing, and there is very little consensus as to which brick-and-mortar concepts will survive over time,” the plan reads.

Part of the plan includes potential for housing development. Based primarily on population, household, and employment forecasts, the North End could support up to 2,200 new units of housing, over 120,000 square feet of new office space, and rehabilitation and reconfiguration of its existing retail structures over the next several decades.

The listing states occupancy at Maplewood Mall is at 72%. It also mentions more than 200 proposed adjacent apartment units. But Chernitsky-Hamd clarified those units were proposed by the owners of the Sears parcel on the property, a space owned by Seritage Growth Properties. Seritage put the Sears property on the market in November.

Coleman said Seritage presented a concept plan for an apartment building to Maplewood about a year ago. But the owners never filed a formal application for the project, and the city hasn’t heard from them since.

Seritage did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In addition to potential housing development on the Sears parcel, the Myth Live night club could be leveled and replaced with 237 apartments from Fargo-based developer Enclave Cos., the Star Tribune has reported.