Q: I just visited the Mall of America, and it made me wonder about the financial health of malls in general, and this one in particular, given its size and special attractions. I was there on a Monday, and it did not appear to be very busy. It’s quite a tourist attraction, which helps financially, but I still have to wonder about its future. What can you find out about it?
— Dan Cowles, Cumming
A: Mall of America, which is in Bloomington, Minn., was 98 percent leased as of May, when mall executives announced plans for a $200 million expansion that will add another hotel, a medical office and more retail space, reported Finance & Commerce, a Minnesota business publication. Another attached hotel, the 500-room Radisson Blu, is scheduled to open in March 2013. “Nationwide, amongst retailers, it’s kind of renowned as a very successful place,” local retail broker John Johannson told Finance & Commerce. “It’s a super-regional draw. There’s no question.” The mall, which celebrated its 20th birthday on Aug. 11, attracts 40 million visitors a year and “generates nearly $2 billion each year in economic impact for the state,” according to its website. Reis Inc., which analyzes commercial real estate data, reported that mall vacancy rates in the U.S. were at 8.7 percent in the third quarter, an improvement from the 8.9 percent vacancy rate at the end of the second quarter and from 9.4 percent for third quarter 2011.
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