Southdale Center Reveals Plans For Luxury Retail
Mall owner Simon Property Group on Tuesday confirmed long-rumored plans of a Southdale Center reinvention designed to draw “more than 20 of the most respected names in luxury and aspirational retail” to the Edina property by early 2025.
Simon compared its plans for Southdale to some of its most vibrant and successful properties around the country today including Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, the Shops at Crystals in Las Vegas and Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California, where luxury boutiques including Hermes and Cartier are steps away from a Tesla dealership.
“Our vision for Southdale is in line with high-profile Simon properties across the country,” Jonathan Murphy, co-president of Simon’s Mall Platform, said in a statement. “a blending of highly sought-after retail brands with a curated mix of dining and entertainment that will enhance the center’s positioning as the market’s preeminent experiential shopping destination, creating a gathering place for the community to live, work, dine, play and shop.”
Southdale has been setting the stage for a major overhaul with the recent exit of exterior facing restaurants P.F. Chang’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Juut Salonspa, which provides the space to create a new southern-facing facade. Simon provided two renderings, one of the new exterior and one of an updated “grand court,” but no details on the extent of the interior renovation.
After years of floundering, Southdale’s evolution gained steam in 2019 when Life Time opened an athletic club with rooftop pool and a Life Time Work coworking space where JC Penny once stood. Kowalski’s Market and mini-golf concept Puttshack will open in 2024. But the momentum has been focused on the perimeter of the mall, including luxury apartments, the Restoration Hardware manse, and even the outward facing Rustica Bakery and Dry Bar.
Meanwhile, center court looks more like a mall on the verge of extinction. Even the Caribou Coffee and pretzel stand have fled, along with H&M and many other national retailers. While Ridgedale built a new wing for Nordstrom and Rosedale has added a multi-level food hall and reliable retailers like Anthropologie, Southdale hasn’t had a major retail announcement since the now-defunct Herberger’s department store opened more than a decade ago. The center’s vacancy rate hovers above 20%, according to a 2022 Cushman & Wakefield report.
“Southdale’s iconic status as the country’s first enclosed shopping center makes it a unique gem within our portfolio and a prioritized target for creating an elevated offering,” Simon’s Murphy said.
Southdale changed hands four times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Simon bought it in 2007 and immediately announced plans to restore the now 67-year-old mall to its early glory, but a recession, and lawsuit over Mall of America ownership got in the way.
MOA also tried to build a luxury shopping wing as part of its most recent north side expansion, but the designer shops never materialized, and instead, chunks of that still sparsely populated wing are occupied by fast fashion retailers Zara and H&M.
Because of Simon’s global dominance in mall real estate, with properties in Europe and Asia as well as North America, many retail consultants believe they are in the best position to convince luxury brands to give the Twin Cities—Southdale in particular—another look.
“Southdale is currently the most under-utilized piece of retail real estate in the state,” said Anne Mezzenga, retail consultant and co-CEO of the Omni Talk retail blog and podcast. “The market can definitely support it. Adding luxury at Southdale helps cement Edina as our go-to luxury retail destination in the state. The luxury shopper, who has shown they’re not impacted by any potential recession…wants a destination—something similar to what Restoration Hardware and Galleria have been able to provide in a location with a conveniently-sized mall footprint to enable things like curbside pickup and returns.”
Stefanie Meyer, senior vice president and principal at Mid-America Real Estate Group, knows all too well the Twin Cities’ past struggles to attract, and retain, luxury retailers. But she believes that if high end retail is to work in the this market today, Edina is in the best position to succeed. “I look at Southdale and Galleria as complementary to each other. Adding a luxury wing at Southdale could help both locations.”