After decades on York Avenue in Edina, Hennepin County’s Southdale Library will relocate to the Southdale Center mall.
Following the unexpected closing of Herberger’s department store at Southdale last fall, county officials have started negotiations to design and lease that space to replace the outdated library facility that opened in 1973.
The County Board decided four years ago that it wouldn’t be feasible to renovate the building at 7001 S. York Av. Since then, the county service center that was there has moved to Southdale and the courthouse there has closed.
The Southdale Library, which now sits about two blocks from the mall, ranks fourth in Hennepin County in circulation of materials, visit counts and the number of computer sessions.
It will remain open during construction of the new facility, expected to be completed in early 2022.
“The library is well used and sits in the memory of our current patrons and residents of the community,” said Janet Mills, the county’s interim library director. “But we want to offer more access to technology, and study and meeting spaces.”
The cost of renovating and leasing the Herberger’s site will be significantly less than construction of a new building at the current site, which was estimated at nearly $50 million, said Margo Geffen, the county’s facility services director.
Expected rent at Southdale will be $562,600 for each of the first five years, with increases for the following 15 years.
Simon Property Group, Southdale Center’s developer, will demolish Herberger’s and build the exterior frame of the library. It will be about 57,000 square feet, comparable to the York Avenue location, Geffen said.
The County Board won’t vote on the lease agreement until June, so Geffen said it would be premature to discuss the next steps for disposition of the old property.
County officials held many meetings and offered other chances for the public to give their priorities for the new library. Besides more access to technology and meeting spaces, patrons wanted more power sources for their computers, ample library materials and early-learning spaces for school readiness, Mills said.
The new library also will offer upper-level green space, reserved parking, a curbside drop-off and book drop, and connection to the mall.
Mills said county officials looked at other retail stores across the country that had been converted into libraries. She emphasized that the new facility will look like a library from the outside, citing the new library in Eden Prairie that once was a grocery store.
“We are finding ways to expand the reach of the public library and still offer amenities and services that patrons value,” said Mills. “The mall location is convenient for job seekers, mall shoppers and employees. This may also appeal to families who may not make a trip to a library.”
Employees at the county’s service center in Southdale told Mills that they will be better able to help customers when they can send them to the new library to complete their business. “Libraries are very accessible, and we want them to remain a relevant place where people want to meet and talk and work,” Mills said.
Two more open houses on the new library will be held at the Southdale Library, at 6 p.m. May 30 and at 10 a.m. June 8.