Har Mar Mall in Roseville, MN: Where Retail Past Meets Present

The Evolution of Har Mar Mall

Har Mar Mall, nestled in Roseville, Minnesota, opened its doors in August 1963, marking the beginning of a significant retail era in the Twin Cities suburb. Conceived by Harold J. Slawik, the mall’s name, a blend of his and his wife Marie’s names, symbolizes its personal and community-centric origins.

Designed by Willard Thorsen, known for his work on Apache Plaza, Har Mar Mall stood out with its unique architectural style, featuring zigzagging corridors and arched ceilings.

Over the years, the mall expanded several times, adapting to the changing retail landscape. Notably, in the early 1970s, it underwent significant expansion, enhancing its capacity and appeal.

Despite facing competition from nearby Rosedale Center, which opened in 1969, Har Mar Mall maintained its presence, becoming a staple in the community.

As of January 2024, it continues to serve as a hub for various stores and services, including Marshalls, HomeGoods, Burlington, and Cub Foods, offering things to do in Roseville, Minnesota

The Birth and Growth of Har Mar Mall

The Early Days and Vision

Har Mar Mall’s journey began in 1961, two years before its official opening. Harold J. Slawik’s vision was to create a “super mall” inspired by shopping centers he had seen in Florida.

The mall, occupying 50 acres of land at a bustling intersection in Roseville, was designed to be more than just a shopping destination; it was envisioned as a community hub.

The construction, led by Robert W. Fendler of Fendler Patterson, laid the foundation for a significant retail landmark in Minnesota.

Expansion and Addition of Tenants

In the early 1970s, Har Mar Mall underwent a substantial expansion. This period marked the introduction of major tenants and the enlargement of the mall’s footprint.

The expansion allowed Har Mar to accommodate many retailers and services, catering to an expanding suburban population.

The addition of a twin theater, Har Mar 1 & 2, in 1970, and its later transformation into a triplex, Har-Mar 3, in 1977, added a new dimension to the mall’s offerings.

Facing Competition and Adapting

The opening of Rosedale Center in 1969 introduced significant competition for Har Mar Mall. However, the mall responded by continuing to evolve and adapt.

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The 1980s saw further expansions and renovations, including adding a new food court and the arrival of large retailers like Highland Superstore and TJ Maxx.

These developments helped Har Mar Mall maintain its relevance and appeal in a rapidly changing retail environment.

Har Mar Mall
Har Mar Mall” by McGhiever is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Har Mar Mall’s Architectural and Design Innovations

Unique Architectural Features

Har Mar Mall’s design, crafted by Minnesota native Willard Thorsen, set it apart from typical shopping centers.

The mall’s layout featured a long, zigzagging corridor, breaking the monotony of straight-line designs prevalent in malls of that era.

This unique design added visual interest and created a distinctive visitor shopping experience.

Emphasis on Natural Light and Space

One of the key architectural highlights of Har Mar Mall was its use of natural light. The design incorporated arched ceilings with large windows, allowing sunlight to brighten the corridors.

This feature not only enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the mall but also contributed to a more pleasant and inviting atmosphere for shoppers.

Throughout its history, Har Mar Mall’s architecture has played a crucial role in its ability to adapt to changing retail trends.

The mall’s flexible design allowed for easy modifications and expansions, accommodating new stores and services as consumer preferences evolved.

This adaptability has been a key factor in the mall’s longevity and continued relevance in the retail landscape.

Major Events and Challenges

The 1981 Tornado and Its Aftermath

On June 14, 1981, Har Mar Mall faced one of its most significant challenges when a large tornado struck the area.

While the mall suffered only cosmetic damage, the event left a lasting impact on the surrounding community.

In response, Har Mar Mall underwent a large-scale renovation to repair and update its appearance, ensuring the mall remained a vibrant center for shopping and community gatherings.

Har Mar Mall Interior
Har Mar Mall Interior” by Shaded0 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Cinema’s Rise and Fall

The Har Mar cinema, initially opened in 1970, played a pivotal role in the mall’s history. By 1981, it had expanded to 11 screens, becoming the largest cinema in Minnesota.

However, with the advent of modern multiplexes offering advanced technology and stadium seating, the once-popular cinema at Har Mar struggled to compete.

In 2006, its closure marked the end of an era for the mall and reflected broader changes in the entertainment industry.

Throughout its history, Har Mar Mall has navigated various retail shifts. The 1990s and 2000s saw significant changes in tenant composition, with stores like BizMart and OfficeMax coming and going.

These shifts indicated the broader challenges malls faced nationwide as consumer habits evolved and e-commerce began to rise.

The Transformation of Retail Space

In the face of evolving retail trends, Har Mar Mall has continually adapted its space to meet new demands.

This has included diversifying its tenant mix and repurposing spaces previously occupied by traditional retailers.

The mall’s ability to remain flexible and responsive to market changes has been key to its endurance.

Arrival of New Anchor Tenants

The 2010s saw the arrival of new anchor tenants, reshaping the mall’s retail landscape. Stores like Burlington Coat Factory and HomeGoods became key attractions, drawing in shoppers with their diverse offerings.

These new anchors replaced older, traditional department stores, reflecting a shift in consumer preferences towards value-oriented and home-centric retail options.

Har Mar Mall
Har Mar Mall Directory” by Shaded0 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Embracing a Mix of Retail and Services

Today, Har Mar Mall hosts a mix of retail and service-oriented businesses. This blend includes fashion retailers, home goods stores, and a variety of service providers, from beauty salons to dining options. This diverse tenant mix caters to a broad range of consumer needs.

Har Mar Mall’s New Chapter: The $50 Million Sale

The Sale and New Ownership

In September 2022, Har Mar Mall was purchased by Texas-based Fidelis Realty Partners for $50 million.

The purchase by Fidelis Realty Partners, a firm with a substantial portfolio primarily in Texas, represents the company’s first venture into Minnesota and one of its few in the Midwest.

Previous Management and Future Plans

Before the sale, the mall was operated by New York-based real estate management firm Clarion Partners.

The sale from Gateway Washington Inc. to Fidelis Realty Partners brought new management with fresh perspectives and plans for the mall. 

Mall’s Current State and Potential

Har Mar Mall had a 79% occupancy rate during the sale. The mall, spanning approximately 40 acres and surrounded by over 2,000 parking spaces, is a central retail destination in Roseville. 

Implications for the Future

The acquisition of Har Mar Mall by Fidelis Realty Partners is more than just a change in ownership; it represents a potential revitalization and modernization of a key retail space in Roseville.

With new management at the helm, significant investments and developments could be expected to reshape the mall’s future, aligning it with current retail trends and consumer needs.

Har Mar Mall Today – A Mix of Old and New

Current Tenant Mix

As of 2024, Har Mar Mall presents a vibrant mix of tenants that cater to a wide range of consumer needs.

The mall houses 30 stores and services, including well-known names like Cub Foods, K&G Fashion Superstore, Barnes & Noble, and Cub Wine & Spirits.

This diverse tenant mix reflects the mall’s adaptability to changing retail trends and its commitment to serving the varied needs of the Roseville community.

Har Mar Mall
Har Mar Mall” by Mulad is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Recent Developments and Additions

In recent years, Har Mar Mall has seen the addition of several new tenants, further enhancing its appeal.

Notable additions include popular dining options like Kyoto Sushi, Ichiddo Ramen, and Wingstop and service-oriented businesses such as Elements Massage and Merle Norman.

These new businesses have brought fresh energy to the mall, attracting different customer demographics and contributing to its dynamic atmosphere.

Focus on Community and Convenience

Har Mar Mall continues to focus on providing visitors convenience and a sense of community.

With its strategic location at the corner of Snelling Ave and County Road B West, the mall remains easily accessible to residents of Roseville and surrounding areas.

Its blend of retail, dining, and service options makes it a one-stop destination for shopping, leisure, and essential services.

The Anchors of Har Mar Mall – Stories of Resilience

Marshalls – A Staple of Affordable Fashion

Marshalls, a national chain known for offering brand-name clothing and home fashion at discounted prices, has been a key anchor at Har Mar Mall.

Its presence caters to budget-conscious shoppers, consistently drawing a steady flow of customers seeking affordable-quality goods.

HomeGoods – Enhancing Home Living

HomeGoods, another anchor tenant, specializes in home furnishings and decor. Its wide range of products, from furniture to kitchenware, appeals to those looking to enhance their living spaces.

HomeGoods has become a destination for shoppers seeking unique and stylish home items at reasonable prices.

Burlington – Diverse Apparel and More

Burlington, formerly known as Burlington Coat Factory, offers a diverse range of apparel, home goods, and accessories.

Its large store footprint in Har Mar Mall allows it to showcase an extensive selection, making it a popular choice for family shopping.

Har Mar Mall
Har Mar Mall” by pirate johnny is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Michaels – Crafting a Creative Niche

Michaels, the well-known arts and crafts store, provides a creative outlet for hobbyists and artists in the community.

Its presence in Har Mar Mall underscores the mall’s commitment to offering a variety of shopping experiences, catering to niche interests alongside mainstream retail needs.

Cub Foods – The Grocery Anchor

Cub Foods anchors the mall with its comprehensive grocery offerings. As a popular regional grocer, Cub Foods attracts regular foot traffic, contributing significantly to the mall’s daily visitor count.

Its presence ensures that Har Mar Mall remains a vital part of the daily lives of many Roseville residents.

Envisioning the Future of Har Mar Mall

Reflecting on Har Mar Mall’s Journey

As we conclude our exploration of Har Mar Mall’s rich history and evolution, it’s clear that this shopping center has been more than just a retail space. It has been a community landmark, adapting to changing times and trends.

From its inception in the 1960s to its recent sale in 2022, Har Mar Mall has continuously evolved, reflecting the dynamic nature of retail and community needs.

The Mall’s Resilience and Adaptability

Har Mar Mall’s ability to withstand various challenges, from natural disasters to the shifting retail landscape, speaks to its resilience.

The mall has survived by embracing change through architectural innovations, tenant diversification, or ownership transitions. This adaptability is a testament to the mall’s enduring relevance in the Roseville community.

Anticipating Future Developments

Looking ahead, the future of Har Mar Mall appears promising. With new ownership and plans for further development, the mall is poised to continue its legacy of serving the community.

The anticipated enhancements and modernizations could rejuvenate the mall, attracting new visitors and retaining loyal customers.

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