The Brookdale Square strip mall was built in 1981 and was a landmark to all north suburban children, as it housed a Children’s Palace toy store, complete with a castle-style roof. The warehouse-style toy store always had shelves stocked to the ceiling with Cabbage Patch dolls, 8-bit Nintendo games, Transformers, and Matchbox cars.
It didn’t hold a candle to the nearby, much smaller Toys R Us store. Geoferry Giraffe claimed to have everything from bikes to trains to video games, but our hearts were with Peter Panda. He was much cuter
Even in its heyday, this strip mall didn’t have much to offer other than Children’s Palace, so it’s no surprise that when the toy store got of dodge in the early ’90s, it was the beginning of the end for this mall. Other tenants were Wallpapers to Go and T. Wright’s Saloon and Supper club. I don’t remember anything else. If you know of any, please let me know!
I’m not quite sure if the Circuit City or Office Depot went in its place – Circuit City was in the middle of the mall with a the large roof (closed in Feb. 2005), and Office Depot (not sure when it closed) was at the end of the mall. I cannot quite remember if Children’s Palace was in the center or at the end. I want to say that Circuit City took over – but if anyone knows for sure, please let me know. Other tenants around this time were Drug Emporium (closed in the early 00′s), Blockbuster Video, USA Karate, and Weight Watchers. With flashy tenants like those, this mall was one groovy place! It even held a Hennipen County Services/DMV center for a while, in the mid ’00s – a clear sign of a mall on its last legs.
Today, this place is all but empty. The Pep Boys sign is still up, but the store is long gone. I couldn’t tell if the Weight Watchers was still in business or not – it looked like it was, though there were no cars at all in this deserted mall lot.
The outlot of Brookdale Square contained a Fuddruckers (Ruddfuckers) that closed in the early ’00s and two movie theaters, only one of which is still operating today. First, we have UA The Movies (Now “Brookdale 8″). Like the strip mall, it was also built in 1981 and was THE place to see movies for Brooklyn Park/Center residents in the ’80s and most of the ’90s.
The last time I saw a movie at this place was in 1996 to see “A Very Brady Sequel.” It was a dump even back then – the place smelled like cheese and my feet stuck to the floor. Amazingly, this place is still operating today, on a bare-bones schedule (looks like only Thurs-Sun after 4PM), showing second-run and Indian (“Bollywood”) movies — a far cry from the days when, on Friday nights, the lines would be around the building just to see Jurassic Park. I’m not sure why someone would even WANT to see a movie at this place. Not even for a $1. It just looks absolutely disgusting – I haven’t been in there since 1996, but just looking at the outside of this place, I wouldn’t want to step foot in there, let alone sit in a soiled seat and eat at their “snack bar”.
Right next door to the Brookdale 8 is the Brookdale General Cinema. Built in 1972 and closed in the early ’00s (my guess…might’ve been late ’90s). I believe this place only had 4 screens. This was considered the ugly step child of the Brooklyn Center theaters – you only went here if the movie was sold out at the other place.
Today, this place is some sort of religious event center. I’m not sure if it’s still in business. I hope not. I wouldn’t be surprised if this place is covered in asbestos. Ick.
My guess is that within the next few years (maybe months?) all of these places will meet the same fate as Brookdale Ford.