It’s an embarrassment of riches for the Galleria.

The Edina luxury lifestyle center is consistently 95 to 98 percent leased and another expansion is in the works, executives said Wednesday.

“It will happen,” said Jennifer Smith, retail leasing manager. “We just don’t know exactly what it will be until we know which tenants we’re dealing with.”

She wouldn’t confirm any specific retailers or the size of the expansion, but she said she expects to have a signed letter of intent within 30 days.

The new area is expected to extend out toward the parking area between Gabberts and Barnes and Noble on the north side, Smith said. The new space will be built above the existing parking area in order to not diminish parking space.

The added space will give the center a chance to extend beyond home furnishings, which make up about 40 percent of its space, said retail expert Dick Grones, principal of Cambridge Commercial Realty.

“The Galleria is over-retailed for home furnishings,” Grones said. “But what do you expect from a previous owner named Gabbert?”

Longtime owner Gabbert & Beck sold the mall a year ago to Hines Global REIT for $127 million. With the new owners, shoppers can expect new concepts, including some that the previous owners didn’t want, Grones said. “They always believed, if it wasn’t broke why fix it? Hines is more receptive to attracting younger shoppers,” he said.

The new owners want to maintain the mall’s lively, exclusive mix of local and national retailers, but they’re also trying to attract younger shoppers.

“We’ve always attracted a 40-plus customer, but we’d like to expand that to customers in their mid-20s and up,” said Luis Serrat, vice president of retail at the Galleria and former general manager of the now-closed Neiman Marcus in downtown Minneapolis.

Even as plans for construction evolve, the center is preparing to introduce several new stores. Kate Spade will open in November and the North Face will open its third Twin Cities store in October. Meanwhile, Bluemercury just became the center’s first full-service cosmetics retailer.

With the fresh faces, the center hopes to find new younger shoppers as well as those looking for moderately lower prices. Kate Spade, for instance, will offer the woman who doesn’t want to spend $940 on a Never Full Louis Vuitton handbag some trendier, lower-priced options.

Two vacant spaces on the main floor are under negotiation and there are two spots open on the lower level.

The Galleria, which consistently maintains the highest sales per square foot of any Twin Cities mall, has undergone several major expansions since it opened in 1972. The most recent was the 2008 addition of the Crate & Barrel wing and the Westin Hotel.

“It’s not that bigger is always better,” said Serrat, “but we’re hemmed in. We’d like to add a couple more restaurants too.”

The new expansion, if it comes together as planned, is expected to be completed by 2016, Smith said.


John Ewoldt • 612-673-7633