When it comes to Minnesota Malls, (other than the MOA), Minnesota is known for its “dales” – Ridgedale, Rosedale, Southdale…and then there’s Brookdale, the black sheep of the “Dales” family. While the other ‘Dales are known for their massive amounts of stores and stylish decor, this miscreant mall is known more for its perception of criminal activity than it is for its shopping activity.
Growing up in Brooklyn Center, this is where we shopped. Even with its dowdy, dreary decor and strange coffee smell wafting through the air, I thought this place was the be-it-all, end-it-all of malls. I didn’t know any better – my parents never took us to Southdale or Rosedale because “they’re too far away.” I guess when you live in Brooklyn Park, a 10 mile drive to Edina is just too remote of a trek to go to a mall when there’s Brookdale in your backyard. Brookdale is the smallest of the ‘dales with only one level (because it was built over a swamp), so when my parents finally took me to Southdale, I thought I was in fucking Disneyland.
Brookdale never had the glowing reputation that, say, Southdale did, but it was a safe, decent place to shop. It had between 70-80 stores, a few restaurants, strong anchor stores, and up until 1992, you could smoke in designated areas within the mall. Dad could light up a ciggy and puff away to his lungs’ content, on a bench in the commons outside of Dayton’s while Mom and the kids shopped for back-to-school clothes! Yep. Brookdale Center was fun for the whole family.
Throughout the ’90s, the suburb’s demographics changed dramatically, and as a result, Brookdale tenants started deserting the mall. At the beginning of the ’90s, Brookdale was a passable place to spend an afternoon with a good selection of stores. At the end of the ’90s, it had turned into a creepy, dreary locale. If you absolutely HAD to go to Brookdale, you didn’t want to spend any time “hanging out” – get in, get out, and make sure not to leave any valuables in your car. Thank goodness Brookdale has lockers.
A major renovation was completed in 2004, including an addition to the mall. This transformation was supposed to help the mall get back on its feet. The tiles and the ceilings were given a makeover to help give the mall a brighter ambiance. The renovation draw new tenants to the mall – among those were Gap, Old Navy, and Barnes & Noble – but it didn’t help. Stores continued to vacate the property.
Prior to its renovation, the mall did not have a food court. Restaurants were scattered all around the mall, so if you were there with a group of friends, and one person wanted Rocky Rococo, one wanted Baskin Robbins, and another wanted Subway, your group would have to branch out all around the mall.
That said, the closet Brookdale had to a food court was a Taco Bell and a frozen yogurt stand (I think it was owned by Daytons) in the middle of the mall, near the tent stores – 2+2 and Piercing Pagoda, and some stationary store) They had a few tables and chairs, but it certainly was not your traditional food court.
Today, there is no reason to go to the Brookdale Mall, unless you have a taste for danger and like urbanwear, fake “gold” that will turn your skin green, dollar store shit, and knockoff sunglasses. You won’t even find many of your typical mall chain stores here. Many of the stores are shady local businesses lured into the mall by the cheap rent.
Amazingly, two of the mall’s anchors – Macy’s (formerly Dayton’s/Marshall Fields) and Sears – are still around today.
Brookdale isn’t much of a destination for shopping anymore as it is for loitering and mall walking. Early in the morning, you can see elderly people holding 1lb neon handweights walking laps around the mall. As the day goes on, Grandma leaves to go play Canasta and in come the baby mamas, teens skipping school, and hoodlums packing heat.
The perception of crime at Brookdale is probably worse than ACTUAL crime. It stays out of the local 10pm newscasts, so I guess that’s a good thing. In recent years, the only newsworthy item from the mall was in 2005, when a tween riot broke out over some boyband no one’s ever heard of.
I’ve read articles of yet ANOTHER renovation coming Brookdale’s way, with perhaps a Home Depot, Wal-Mart, and an LA Fitness coming to save the day. In my opinion, Brookdale’s day in the sun has come and gone. No amount of home improvement centers or chain gyms is going to save it, so might as well tear it down and build some condos
A list of FORMER stores in Brookdale:
1 Potato 2
Bachman’s: Closed 1994
Bakers Shoe Store: Closed prior to 1990
Bath & Body Works: Opened in 1996, closed in winter 2008.
Bridgeman’s Ice Cream
Brookdale Pet Center: Closed prior to 1990
Burger King: Closed in 1995
Dejaiz (young men’s clothing)
Donaldsons: Turned into a Carson Pierie Scott in 1987, then later into a Mervyn’s in 1995. Mervyn’s closed in 2004 and has remained empty since.
Forever 21: Opened 2004, closed 2008
Fredelle Shoes: Closed prior to 1990
Ganger’s Hobby Store
Gantos: Closed 1991
GAP: Opened ’00s, closed 2005
Glamour Shots: Closed in 1995
Gloria Jeans Coffee Beans: This place alone gave the Brookdale Mall its distinct smell of day-old coffee
Hal’s (men’s wear): Closed prior to 1990
Hallmark: Closed early ’00s
Haugland’s for Kids: Closed prior to 1990
JC Penny’s: Currently a Steve & Barry’s. Went out of business in Feb. 2004
Jo-Ann Fabrics: Closed prior to 1990
Kay Bee Toys: Closed in 1995
Lady Foot Locker
Limited: Closed Summer 2007
Milton’s Bridal: Closed prior to 1990
Mr. Bulky: Opened around 1992/1993. Closed: ??
National Uniform: Closed prior to 1990
Northern Reflections: Closed 2001
Old Navy: Opened ’00s. Closed 2006
Pipe Seller: Closed prior to 1990
The Record Shop
Rocky Rococo Pizza: Closed prior to 1990. It was awesome – 2 stories tall!
Sbarro: Closed in 1995
Snyders: Closed in 1991.
Susie’s Casuals: Closed prior to 1990
The Eye Guys
The Limited: Closed August 2007
The Wooden Bird
Trade Secrets Salon
Two Plus Two
Wicks N Sticks
Wonderful World of Pets
A few of the CURRENT stores in Brookdale:
AJ LOMAX Famous Labels
Barnes & Noble
Big Harry Deals (WTF??)
Payless Shoe Source
Steve & Barry’s
ENJOY the rest of the photos!
***Updated 9.2.08: Steve & Barry’s is closing, but no word yet on an exact date. Another one bites the dust!
Updated 12.15.08 – NEW PHOTO! Found this in one of my old photo albums and thought my readers would like to see this – note the slight change in the mall exterior. Sears now has a white exterior, JC Penny’s is now an empty Steve and Barry’s, and the blue & white building (an auto repair place) has since been demolished)
UPDATE: 01.09.09: The Brookdale Macy’s is closing. No word yet on an exact date. With another anchor leaving, Brookdale Center is headed for the guillotine.