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BLOOMINGTON, MN-After years of legal wrangling and negotiating over land and development rights, the Mall of America is expected to be able to start developing its long-awaited phase two project in about 30 days or so. Development of the second phase was held up as the initial site for the second phase, a 33-acre parcel east of the mall, turned out to be in the path of the new north-south runway planned for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The Metropolitan Airport Commission then bought the former 53-acre Met Center site so it could exchange that land as a substitute expansion site, thereby avoiding potential litigation from the Mall of America’s owners over the tight development restrictions that will be put on the 33-acre site.

The first hurdle could be cleared this week, as the Bloomington City Council is expected to approve an environmental impact statement for the Mall of America’s planned expansion on a 53-acre parcel north of the mall. The next two steps will come in about a month, when the city council and Bloomington Port Authority approve master plans for the expansion site and transfers development rights, including a tax increment financing district, to the new site from the old one, says Bill Griffith, a Bloomington attorney representing the Mall of America. Once all that is done, the Mall of America can close on its land swap deal with the Metropolitan Airport Commission, he says.

“This deal benefits the entire metropolitan area by eliminating potentially costly damages over lost development rights,” Griffith says. “This deal also provides a significant tax benefit to the city, which stood to lose millions of dollars a year because of development restrictions around the airport.”

Led by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, the owners of the Mall of America plan to build an ambitious 5.3 million-sf second phase to the Bloomington shopping and entertainment center that will include hotels, office buildings, a retail and entertainment complex, event and performing arts centers, and residential projects. Plans are already underway for a 500-room full-service hotel on the site, and that could be the first portion of the new phase to be built, Griffith says. A hotel chain has not yet been identified for that project, he says.

“Unlike the first phase, this second phase will actually be a series of phases with the retail-entertainment portion to be the core of the expansion,” Griffith says.

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