The listing of an 11.5-acre parcel of vacant, publicly owned land could signal further expansion to the Mall of America, which touts itself as the largest shopping center in the United States and Minnesota’s premier tourist attraction.
The Minneapolis office of Newmark Knight Frank, also known as NKF, has been chosen to market the land, one block north of the mall bordering Interstate 494, on behalf of the current owner, the city of Bloomington’s Port Authority.
Mall of America, owned by Edmonton, Canada-based Triple Five Group, will have a say in what is developed on the Port Authority’s parcel, according to Schane Rudlang, the Port Authority’s administrator. The land for sale is immediately north of an even larger undeveloped property owned by the mall itself, a full city block of open space that covers about 31 acres.
If the mall’s land were to be paired with the Port Authority’s parcel, the combined area would come to about 43 acres — roughly two-thirds the size of the mall building and surrounding parking area as it exists today.
As of Monday afternoon, the Port Authority was scheduled to approve that evening a two-year contract with NKF. The brokerage will get a minimum commission of $500,000 for finding a buyer for the property, or 5 percent if it’s a direct sale and, if it’s a co-brokered transaction, then the commission rises to 6 percent.
Rudlang said the purchase price is flexible and depends on the buyer’s proposal. “We want it to be the right kind of development,” he said.
Rudlang said that the land is one of the last two significant chunks of developable property owned by the Port Authority, which has been gradually selling off its holdings around the mall over the past three decades. The Port Authority’s 11.5-acre site offers nearby access to Interstate 494 and is within view of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s tarmac.
Judging by the marketing materials for the 11.5 acres of land, the Port Authority may be open to ambitious and even somewhat fanciful development ideas. The marketing materials prepared by NKF tout the property as the site of “The Next Big Thing,” a tall order considering its neighbor is the 5.6 million-square-foot Mall of America. The mall annually attracts 40 million visitors, about double Disney World’s 20.5 million a year, and generates about $2 billion in economic activity. Some ideas floated by NKF for inspiration are a destination medical center, an indoor ski slope, theme park, casino or global corporate headquarters.
Triple Five Group isn’t holding back on elaborate mall projects despite the recent struggles of bricks-and-mortar retail. The firm is developing a 6-million-square-foot shopping and entertainment complex in Miami — complete with indoor snow park — called American Dream.
The Port Authority did not go through a bidding process when selecting the brokerage, according to Rudlang, who said that he was impressed by members of NKF’s Minneapolis team after working with them on an unsuccessful bid to bring the 2023 World’s Fair to Bloomington.
NKF is a relative newcomer to the Minneapolis market. The New York-based real estate company opened its office in 2017 under the leadership of two Twin Cities industry veterans, John McCarthy and Jim Damiani. NKF is the lead broker in the effort to find users for a sweeping, multiuse development planned for the acreage around the Minnesota Vikings’ new practice facility in Eagan.
Executives at Mall of America didn’t respond to requests for comment, while NKF didn’t immediately comment.