Apr 9, 2021 - News

How making a Twin Cities strip mall cool staved off a pandemic retail slump

The new Texa-Tonka Mall has a plaza for outdoor seating at Revival and Angle Food Bakery. Photo: Paster Properties

When you think of 1950s strip malls, cool isn't the first word to pop into your head.

But at Texa-Tonka in St. Louis Park, developer Paster Properties completely redesigned the aging mall and filled vacant spaces with hip tenants.

  • Revival, the buzzed-about fried chicken restaurant in Minneapolis and St. Paul, is opening a third location.
  • Angel Food Bakery is leaving downtown Minneapolis to open a coffee shop/bakery.
  • Erik's Bike Shop remains, which Paster credited with being an anchor to make it all work.

Paster Properties, based in St. Louis Park, looked into buying the mall for years, but president Howard Paster admitted it was hard to see the potential.

  • "It looked like garbage with the 1970s and 1980s green mansard roof," he recalled.
  • Paster's architect, AWH, drew up a design to bring it back to its 1950s look. Paster cut out leasable space the middle of the mall to make a plaza that provides outdoor seating.
This is what the mall used to look like. Gone are the green mansard roofs. Photo: Google Maps

Yes, but: There's still a big chunk of vacant space in the mall, and Paster is hoping to lure a brewery or a fitness center.

  • Helping the cause: Paster got approval this week to construct a 112-unit apartment building next to the mall, adding more shoppers.

Fun fact: Texa-Tonka was the longtime home of Mike Zoss Drugs, where Joel and Ethan Coen hung out as kids.

  • The screenwriters behind "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski" later named their production company Mike Zoss Productions.

This story first appeared in the Axios Twin Cities newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


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