When architect Victor Gruen designed Southdale Center – the nation’s first fully-enclosed, climate-controlled shopping mall – he envisioned a communal gathering place that eventually would incorporate a medical center, schools, offices, homes and apartments – not just a parade of glitzy stores.
The mall boasted fountains, tropical plants, sculptures and even a large bird cage. It was quite the attraction in the mid-1950s.
Now 61 years after Southdale opened, Gruen’s original vision is becoming a reality. Southdale, a Simon Property Group-owned mall in Edina, Minn., now includes luxury apartments constructed in part of the mall’s parking lot, a Homewood Suites by Hilton that broke ground in June, a Life Time going into a former JC Penney store, and even a government center. Also, a new Restoration Hardware and a proposed Shake Shack will round out Southdale’s last two parking-lot redevelopment sites.