The Early Years: A New Dawn in Retail
In Eden Prairie, Minnesota, the year 1976 marked a new beginning. The birth of the Eden Prairie Center, a grand shopping mall, etched a new chapter in the annals of the city’s retail landscape.
Homart Development Company was the mastermind behind the creation of this commercial marvel, which initially charmed visitors with its off-white and brown theme, complete with wood and glass railings.
The mall’s architecture was a testament to the era’s aesthetics, sporting pillars crafted from white pebbles and a sunken basement-level food court. Accessibility wasn’t overlooked, as a significant ramp facilitated wheelchair access to the second floor, proving the mall’s foresight in inclusive design.
Its stores were a diverse mix, headlined by Powers Dry Goods and Sears, which quickly became staples for the Eden Prairie, Minnesota community. This retail assortment experienced a reshuffle in 1985 when Powers’ store transformed into Donaldson’s and later into Carson Pirie Scott in 1987.
A significant expansion followed in 1984 with the construction of a Target store, connected by a walkway, an addition that elevated the mall’s offerings.
The 1990s: An Era of Transformation
The 1990s ushered in an era of significant changes for the Eden Prairie Center. The mall underwent a major renovation, adopting a pink and aqua pastel theme that replaced the initial off-white and brown palette.
The pebble pillars and the large ramp gave way to pastel aqua round casings and a free-standing elevator. The old food court got a vibrant makeover adorned with neon palm trees and a color-changing fountain.
This period also saw the mall ambitiously attempting to attract premier Minneapolis retailer Dayton’s. Despite the plan not materializing, the mall saw additions like Mervyns and Kohl’s department stores, and a second United Artists movie theater, infusing a fresh lease of life into the mall.
The entrances now sported large white pyramids, a testament to the mall’s evolving architecture. Such transformations marked the mall’s commitment to adapt and serve its patrons better, proving its mettle in a changing retail landscape.
The 21st Century: Redefining Retail
As the new millennium rolled in, the Eden Prairie Center embraced it with the most significant renovation in its history. 2001 saw a complete revamp of the mall’s structure with a new wing, a massive AMC movie theater, and an expanded Target Greatland.
The mall became a more modern, upscale space, changing its store layout from a three-story mall to two stories. The food court found a new home, as the old location transformed into offices.
Department stores like Von Maur and JCPenney made grand entries while Mervyns bid goodbye. The mall also embraced a new, simplified “EP” logo, ditching the older handwritten style, signaling its readiness to embrace the future.
The turn of the century heralded a new phase in the mall’s journey, proving its ability to reinvent and stay relevant to the changing times.
Present Day and Recent Developments: The Unfolding Narrative
Today, the Eden Prairie Center is a testament to constant evolution and adaptation. In the face of challenges for many local retailers, the Center has made significant progress with its tenants.
JLL, the professional services firm that manages the mall, reports high inventiveness and investment by the tenant stores. The long COVID-19 siege has stimulated a renewed desire in consumers for brick-and-mortar shopping, allowing for a more social kind of shopping experience.
Von Maur solidified its 20-year presence by purchasing the real estate pad for its location. Scheels, a sports store, will celebrate its third anniversary in July 2023, and Target completed a full-store remodel in early October 2021. The mall also houses JCPenney, which has decided to remain open despite initial closure plans.
Hi-Five Sports Zone, a 20,000-square-foot indoor sports facility, opened in the summer of 2021, providing the community with a place for sports, camps, classes, birthday parties, and an after-school club.