With of the new RH concept store opening on a former parking area at Southdale Center next week, another piece in the massive remaking of the Edina mall complex will fall into place.
The luxe furniture store, which was known as Restoration Hardware until a rebranding in 2012, will open doors to its three-story showroom Friday in a space that also includes a rooftop restaurant and barista bar along with gallery-like spaces.
It’s the latest project to open on the grounds of the mall as owner Simon Property Group seeks to transform the traditional retail center into a community hub with many industries and purposes.
“We’re reclaiming the whole trailblazer spirit we had when we first opened in 1956,” said Judy Tullius, general manager of Southdale Center.
The 63-year-old mall, the nation’s first enclosed shopping center, was once the symbol of postwar suburbia. Surrounded by a sea of parking spaces, Southdale contained a Red Owl supermarket and a two-level Woolworths and lunch counter. There was a fish pond and 21-foot cage filled with birds.
But the rise of online shopping has led to less foot traffic at malls. Traditional retail anchors have gone dark, leaving giant holes on the corners of malls across America. Sprawling retail centers such as Southdale have reclaimed empty parking spots, made deals with diverse businesses — including those in health care, housing and hospitality — and sought out different or destination concepts such as RH.
“We’re striving to be more than a place to shop,” Tullis said, “but a place where the community enjoys themselves, where people gather to spend time together and come out for special experiences.”
In recent years, Simon Property Group has developed several underutilized parking areas, sometimes hanging onto the land in joint ventures, other times selling, as it did with Restoration Hardware.
One Southdale Place, a 232-unit upscale apartment project, arose on an overflow lot in the mall’s southeast corner in 2014. Last fall, Homewood Suites by Hilton opened at the corner of 66th Street and York Avenue. A Shake Shack restaurant followed shortly thereafter on the France Avenue corner.
In November, a massive Life Time fitness “athletic resort” is set to open where J.C. Penney once stood. The three-story complex will be connected to Southdale Center via a corridor. It will include a fitness center with a rooftop beach club, shared workspaces and an area to play pickup sports such as soccer.
Next year construction will begin on a new Hennepin County Southdale Library on the site of the former Herberger’s. It is expected to open in 2022.
With growing numbers of apartment dwellers and hotel guests coming to the Southdale area, the mall is in discussions with medical offices, a dentist and a car rental company, Tullius said.
“We are standing at the forefront of our industry shift from pure retail to mixed-use lifestyle that addresses the full-spectrum a consumers evolving needs,” she said.