Four Seasons Mall is a small enclosed dead shopping mall located in Plymouth, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis. I’m aware that this topic has nothing to do with Disney in any form, but it’s a place I’ve wanted to talk about for a long time, because I live near it and I haven’t seen an article talk in depth about it and do the mall any justice. I wanted to write about it before it gets torn down, so I hope you find this article interesting, especially if you live in the Twin Cities or in Minnesota.
At about 117,000 sq. feet, Four Seasons Mall is on the smaller end of shopping centers, and it has been largely ignored by dead mall enthusiasts. Instead they focus on the larger dead mall Brookdale Center (Now Shingle Creek Crossing) in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. This means it has largely avoided vandalism, but it also means little has been documented about the mall and not a lot is known about it. Before I talk about the history of the mall, I want to talk a little bit about the design of the property, as it is very strange.
Four Seasons Mall is built on a thin strip of land off of Lancaster Lane, parallel to HWY 169 in Plymouth. It was built in a great place; vehicles on 169 could see the mall, bringing traffic to the area which also includes a Cub Foods. Just like the land it was built on, FSM is long and thin, seeming more like a strip mall than a regular mall. The mall has a unique design not seen in a lot of malls: four entrances, all located on the west side of the mall, allowed access to the interior of the property. Once inside, you would be greeted by beautiful designs on walls made of wood. There was only one hallway in the mall, located on the west side of the building. All stores were on the east side of the hallway, with the west side having windows letting in natural light and allowing for tenants to advertise sales/promotions. This is what makes the mall so thin: There are only stores on one side of the hallway, instead on both sides like most other malls.
Picture by gregshaal
The design of the exterior is pretty dated now. It may have looked nice in the malls’ prime, but now it looks really old. The four entrances are marked with the logo of the mall on a beige background: a circle with pieces of it depicting each of the seasons. Along the top of the mall is a green border which includes white signs where tenants would advertise their business. Some of these advertisements can still be seen today, including Marcello’s Pizza, and Curves (a gym).
The largest store was on the north end, and had its’ own entrance and sign. The space was used as a grocery store named Fresh and Natural Foods. The building itself is made of a dark red brick, which attributes to why it looks so dated and depressing now that the property is vacant.
Four Seasons Mall opened in 1978 with 26 spaces for tenants. It was constructed by RMF Group (http://www.rmfgroup.com), the same company that built Brookdale Center. It was built on 17 acres of land, right off of US HWY 169. There isn’t that much recorded history about the mall in its’ early days, other than it had a fairly high occupancy rate and became a popular place for locals to go to. Over time, the mall slowly lost tenants to other malls and shopping centers, and in the process it lost costumers and traffic to the area. These pictures were taken by Google Earth and show the downfall of the mall from the early 1990’s to 2016.
In the mid-2000’s, the city of Plymouth took measures to get tenants of the mall and the surrounding area better water, as pipes leading to the area has eroded. This showed that the city still cared about the property. At about this time, the mall had somewhere between 5-10 tenants, most of them small businesses. The owners of the mall (Four Seasons II LLC.) knew that nothing could be done to save the mall, and they put it up for sale for $12.5 million after buying it from the original owners for about $2.5 million in 1996. It was bought on November 30th, 2010 by Walmart. At this point, there were five tenants: Bahn Thai, Marcello’s Pizza, Fresh and Natural Foods, Kaplan Professional Schools, and Curves. Walmart took an interest in the site after realizing that they aren’t well represented in the West Metro of the Twin Cities. Currently, Wal Mart has three stores in this area: Maple Grove, Brooklyn Center (Redeveloped location. Once was Brookdale Center), and Eden Prairie. They decided they needed a new location, and Four Seasons Mall would be a great place for it. There was one problem: Plymouth City Council hated the idea of a Wal Mart taking the place of the mall. The city had drawn redevelopment plans, and all of them were either mixed use or residential developments, and none of the were close to a big box retailer like Wal Mart: http://www.plymouthmn.gov/Home/ShowDocument?id=7076
Wal Mart hadn’t had the property rezoned before they bought either, which added another layer of trouble for the company. Still, the plans carried on, and Fresh and Natural Foods, Bahn Thai, Kaplan Professional Schools, and Curves abandoned their locations. Fresh and Natural Foods have three other locations in the Twin Cities, so everything was moved to one of those stores. Curves relocated to a strip mall near Target called Cottonwood Plaza. The location the Bahn Thai closed permanently, and wouldn’t open in a new location. Their website hasn’t been taken down strangely. It’s a piece of crap but I found that interesting: http://bahnthai.tripod.com.
With these stores gone, there was only one tenant left in the mall, and they didn’t have a long time left as Wal Mart refused to renew their lease. On February 29th, 2012, the final tenant, Marcello’s Pizza, closed their doors, leaving the mall officially dead while Wal Mart figured out what to do with it. Wal Mart was having some issues with getting their store built. They originally planned to build their location in 2011-2012 but ran into some issues with the city. They submitted plans for a 150,000 sq. foot store, but the plans were rejected by the city. They then submitted plans for a smaller, 87,000 sq. foot store, but that too was rejected by the city.
The city claimed that the site could only handle 85,000 sq. feet of retail, even though the mall was well over that threshold. After this rejection, Wal Mart went silent for a few years, leaving the mall abandoned for even longer. Inevitably, on February 26th, 2015, Wal Mart put the site up for sale for around $10 million. It was bought by the current owners, INH Properties, soon after. On INH’s website, the mall is listed as being For Sale: http://inhproperties.com/property/four-season-mall-site-2/
Recently, plans have been submitted by the city by a group called Rock Hill Management, who from what I can gather, are a division/partner of INH Properties who plan on developing the location. They pitched a mixed use development which has retail, residential, and a transit area, named Agora.
The first city council meeting discussing this redevelopment occurred recently, and it seems as if the city really likes the idea and wants to approve it. The EAW was created within the last month (http://www.plymouthmn.gov/home/showdocument?id=12948), and more city council meetings are scheduled discussing Agora: http://www.plymouthmn.gov/home/showdocument?id=3003, So it seems like the days of Four Seasons Mall are numbered. Currently, the Mall sits completely vacant, and it’s quite sad. Here are some pictures I took of the mall:
I only hope that Agora can live up to what the mall was: a place where members of Plymouth and surrounding areas could gather, host events, and shop. Interestingly, the same company who built the mall are also helping to redevelop it. The website for Agora can be found here, and it makes the project seem very promising: http://www.agoramn.com. It says that Agora will be open in 2018, so we’ll see…..
Here are some drawings of what Agora will look like:
AGORA Update (12/26/16): I was doing a little bit more research about the Agora project, as I was very interested by it, and I came across this document from Colliers’ website. It goes into a ton of detail about what each building is going to look like, and I found it fascinating. I noticed that the two hotels listed have brands attached to them: Home2 Suites and Aloft Hotels. Maybe those are the hotels that are going to be a part of Agora, but who knows this early on in the planning phase. Another interesting thing I noticed was that on the first page some of the retail is labeled as ‘Existing’. The retail sections that are labeled that are in areas where the mall currently stands, which leads me to think that the developers are remodeling sections of the mall and using those sections as the new retail areas, but I’m not sure. I’ll keep updating this article as I find out more about the future of Four Seasons Mall.
AGORA Update (1/18/17)
The latest news related to Agora has surfaced: The rezoning plan has been approved, moving the project one step closer to becoming a reality. I reached out to Agora about whether they plan on including something to pay homage to FSM in the new development. I will update this post if I get a response.
AGORA UPDATE (3/5/17)
Lots of news related to Four Seasons Mall has been released in the last month. The project was approved by the City of Plymouth. The days of Four Seasons Mall are limited now. Also, I was sent a response from the developers saying they haven’t considered it, but it’s possible. So, I don’t know.
Depending on when demolition takes place, I’ll try to get out there and take as many pictures as I can, under a new post I’ll call Four Seasons Mall: The Demolition
That’s all from me today; I hope you enjoyed this article! I’m really proud of it, so it would mean a lot to me if you shared it on Twitter, Facebook, etc.! I’ve created a gallery of photos of the mall, in case the pictures I showed weren’t enough.
If the city of Plymouth wanted to let me have/give me one of the logos the mall has above its’ entrances, I wouldn’t be mad 😛
Or the one on the sign.
Also, I really hate whoever wrote on the door “Fuck HELP.” I hate people who vandalize abandoned things.