May 29, 2024 - Business

Scoop: New plans for Bloomington's Southtown Shopping Center

An aerial view of Southtown Shopping Center

Southtown Shopping Center. Photo: Courtesy of Kraus Anderson

The future of the aging Southtown Shopping Center in Bloomington is coming into focus — and it could involve poaching a retailer from a nearby city.

Why it matters: Southtown is one of the oldest and most visible shopping centers in the Twin Cities, but it's been hit by rising vacancies in recent years.

Driving the news: Plans submitted to the city last week show a two-story, 120,000-square-foot "major sports anchor" with an attached 18,000-square-foot outdoor athletic field, as well as a new medical office building.

The intrigue: The layout of the store is almost the same as the experiential Dick's House of Sport that opened at Minnetonka's Ridgedale Center in 2022.

  • In a March earnings call, CEO Lauren Hobart said the Coraopolis, Penn.-based company is planning to open eight new House of Sport stores in 2024 and that "seven of these are planned relocations or conversions of existing Dick's stores."

Between the lines: Hobart's description could apply here because Dick's already has a store right across Interstate 494 in Richfield.

  • Dick's did not respond to an Axios email and Southtown owner Kraus Anderson Cos. declined to comment.

The big picture: Large experiential sporting goods stores have been bright spots in a challenging environment for brick-and-mortar retailers.

  • A new Scheels store at Eden Prairie Center, for example, with a Ferris wheel, aquarium, and other activities has brought big traffic to that mall, its general manager told the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Catch up quick: Three years ago, Kraus Anderson Cos. proposed building a large Hy-Vee store at Southtown before the grocer halted its Twin Cities expansion plans.

  • Last fall, the company began demolishing vacant Herberger's and Toys R Us stores at Southtown, the first step to remaking the six-decade-old center.

Between the lines: A Bloomington city staff report indicated they also expect an application for tax-increment financing for the redevelopment.

Axios asked Bloomington planning manager Glen Markegard if the city would consider subsidizing a project that would essentially lure a retailer that is across the freeway in another city.

  • He declined to comment, saying the city hasn't received the financing application.
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