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JW Marriott hotel opens at Mall of America just in time for Black Friday

The new JW Marriott at the Mall of America opened Monday, just in time for holiday shopping. 

It is the luxury brand's first location in Minnesota and the 25th location in the United States.

Following five years of planning, the 15-story building was constructed in just 15 months.

The new 342-room hotel is one of three components in the Mall's current "front door" expansion on its north side. The hotel is connected to new retail and dining options as well as The Offices at MOA, which mall officials expect will lease up on a rolling basis throughout 2016.

Representatives from Mortenson Development, Mortenson Construction, Marriott International, the Triple Group of Companies and the hotel's ownership Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) were present for the grand opening. 

The JW Marriott joins Radisson Blu as a lodging option attached to the Mall. While some worried that the new hotel would hurt Radisson Blu's business, Kurt Hagen doesn't think so.

"We have the demand," said Hagen, senior vice president for Triple Five Group, the owner and developer of the Mall. "We are probably going to still add two more hotels in some of the next phases and they all hit different segments of the markets." 

He calls the Radisson Blu "upper upscale" and the JW Marriott "luxury". 

The two differ on price, too. 

Tonight's lowest rate at the Radisson Blue is $169 while the JW Marriott's average rate will vary (depending on the season) between $299 and $399 per night. Some room rates will be as high as $599 a night. 

Some of JW Marriott's key features are:

- The lobby lounge offering local craft beers on tap and cocktails using locally distilled spirits and wines
- Nearly 20,000 square feet in meeting space, including a 16,000-square-foot ballroom
- An executive lounge with views of the downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul skylines, as well as the airport runways
- floor-to-ceiling windows 
- A lounge called The Activity Table for wine tastings, cooking classes, etc.
- A lap pool and large fitness center

The hotel also has an onsite restaurant called Cedar and Stone Urban Table that is meant to compete with urban dining in Minneapolis. 

"We don't want our guests to go downtown Minneapolis to eat. We want them to get that same experience here," said Everton Clarke, an executive chef at the restaurant.

JW Marriott's reservation system opened today for customers to start booking rooms.

Owners celebrate the Soo Line Building's Centennial

The Soo Line Building turned 100 this year and its owners are throwing a party to celebrate the structure's place in Minneapolis history.

While it is now known as the site of 254 luxury apartments owned and operated by Village Green, the structure opened in 1915 as the First National Bank/Soo Line Building. First National was the predecessor to U.S. Bank and Soo Line was later acquired by Canadian Pacific Railway.

The 19-story building was the city's tallest until 1929 when the 26-story Foshay Tower opened.

The First National Bank/Soo Line Building in 1915. Photo: Star Tribune archive.

The First National Bank/Soo Line Building in 1915. Photo: Star Tribune archive.


The white terra cotta of the building's Renaissance Revival and Beaux Arts architecture was an anomaly among the dark-toned Victorian structures composing downtown Minneapolis in the early 20th century. More than 5,000 people were present for its opening, eager to take a ride on one of the building's nine elevators, according to the Minnesota Historical Society. 

It originally served as the headquarters for the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie Railroad (known as the "Soo Line" for the phonetic pronunciation of "Sault"). The Soo Line was chartered in the 1880s by several heavyweights in Minneapolis industry, like W.D. Washburn, Charles A. Pillsbury, C.M. Loring and others.

The building remains intact today. It underwent one significant structural change in the past century: the addition of a skyway connection across 5th Street South. U.S. Bank, Village Green and Canadian Pacific are hosting an anniversary celebration Tuesday evening for the building.