BLOOMINGTON, MN-A representative of the new controlling owners of the Mall of America says he would like to “recapture the…mystique” of the nation’s biggest shopping mall and entertainment center by adding new upscale merchants and possibly a water park, performing arts center and indoors ice skating rink. Triple Five USA president David Ghermezian, whose family recently acquired a controlling interest in the local complex through a court dispute with Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group, says his company wants to expand the mall while raising its occupancy rate.

Ghermezian would also like to lure upscale retailers and restaurants like Tiffany’s, PF Chang’s and the Cheesecake Factory, all of which recently opened stores in the Twin Cities. Ghermezian family’s other megamall, in West Edmonton, Alberta, has less than 1% vacancy rate while the Mall of America “conservatively” has about 10% of its leasable space vacant.

Simon, the nation’s largest shopping center company, listed the Mall of America’s occupancy rate at 92.7% in its annual report filed in March. That 7.3% vacancy rate is up from 3% vacancy the prior year.

The 32-year-old Ghermezian says his family intends to take a “hands-on approach” to managing the mall. Simon Property Group is appealing previous legal decisions to the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

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