Brookdale Square: Brooklyn Center, MN

August 20, 2008

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.

Im honestly surprised this place isnt overrun with graffiti

The former OFFICE DEPOT/Children's Palace(???). Considering this is Brooklyn Center, I'm honestly surprised this place isn't overrun with graffiti

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 :)

Paper Warehouse - now THAT'S a blast from the past!

Paper Warehouse - now THAT's a blast from the past!



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!

Circuit City is closed folks. Go ahead & throw away your 15-ft. long receipt. Its okay!

Circuit City is closed, folks. Go ahead & throw away your 15-ft. long receipt for that Smash Mouth CD you bought in 1997. It's okay!

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.

Pretty much the last remaining tenant at Brookdale Square

Pretty much the last remaining tenant at Brookdale Square

PepBoys and WeightWatchers were the last businesses standing. Troopers, indeed!

PepBoys and WeightWatchers were the last businesses standing. Troopers, indeed!

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.

Why not tear this place down and put up a Starbucks in its place?

Why not tear this puppy down and put up a Starbucks in its place?

Sorry folks, its closed. Not sure if it was just time of day I visited or if it was permanatly closed

Sorry folks, it's closed. You'll have to find some other place to lose the Freshman 15. Not sure if it was just time of day I visited or if it was permanently closed

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.

A well-maintained Brookdale Movies sign. Over to the right, you can see the old Ruddfuckers

A well-maintained Brookdale Movies sign. Over to the right, you can see the old Ruddfuckers

UA the Movies, in its glory days

UA the Movies, circa early '00s

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”.

Second-run movies are the main attraction at the Brookdale 8 Cinema
If you didn’t catch the Love Guru the first time, you can still catch this theatrical masterpiece at the Brookdale 8 Cinema
Call the hotline - you dont want to miss this weeks showing of Baby Mama, do you?

Call the hotline - you don't want to miss this week's showing of "Baby Mama", do you?

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.

Im quite surprised this place isnt condemmed

I'm quite surprised this place isn't condemmed

Calling this place an eyesore is kind

Calling this place an "eyesore" is kind

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.

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20 Responses to Brookdale Square: Brooklyn Center, MN

  1. Ashley on November 8, 2008 at 1:44 AM

    ****DRUG EMPORIUM!****

    lest we forget the good ‘ol days…

  2. The Old Scowl on November 14, 2008 at 1:49 AM

    Fuddruckers had previously been a ‘T. Wright’s’ restaurant. My father told me that by coincidence if you combine the ‘T’ and the ‘Wright’ together when saying the word, you get ‘trite’. It might be an appropriate description, since I do not recall ‘T. Wright’s’ being around for more than 5 or 6 years.
    For what it’s worth, across Highway 100 at the site of the present Kohls store there had been what was at one time the only Dolby audio theater in the Twin Cities. It was hampered by the characteristic that hampered many older movie theaters in having only 2 theaters to show movies in.

  3. [...] Yeah, my parents were cheap. Even in the ’80s and ’90s, taking a family of 5 to the movies wasn’t easy on the pocketbook. In fact, our trips to a “real” movie theater were so isolated that I can name every movie we saw: ET, Jurassic Park, and Pinocchio (I know, WTF, right? I “get” ET and Jurassic Park but Pinocchio? Way to be random, mom!). Hey, I don’t blame them. I rarely see a movie in a theater these days anyway, and it’s mostly due to the price. I don’t know of any second-run movie theaters still around, except for that hellhole in Brooklyn Center. [...]

  4. The Old Scowl on January 3, 2009 at 2:07 AM

    Another second-run movie theater in the north metro area is up in Maple Grove at the Discount 10. Good place to take kids when on a budget and when they are not the type to have to see the movie the first week of release. It is just hard to remember the side street that the theater is on in the dark and in that maze that is Maple Grove’s commercial section. But it seems safe and pretty clean to go to.

  5. Jay on January 13, 2009 at 11:31 PM

    I remmber the last time i seen a movie @ the brokdale 8 It was Scary Movie in summer 2000. Then a few months later the Regal across the freeway opened then 6 months later it became a cheap theater and no it wasnt disgusting inside it was good value for $2 and the popcorn & candy tasted same at the “good” theater as there I remember I seen 8 mile , friday after next bad boys 2 hustle & flow crash the 1st 2 spider man movie, amongothers this is my main theater due to the price but lately once it go there its on DVD in a cople weeks

  6. Disco Studd on February 13, 2009 at 3:27 AM

    I remember the Children’s Palace being exactly where Circuit City was located. I can still remember the first time I ever went there. My grandparents were in town in their brand-new ’82 Chrysler Cordoba (my brother and I spent the whole drive to CP playing with the map lights above the rear side windows) and they bought me a set of yellow “cobra” handgrips for my Huffy “Pro Thunder 2″ bike.

    There was also an optical store located where PepBoys is now called “The Eye Works.” I only remember this because both my dad and I got glasses there back in ’84 (and the ridicule I received from those nerd-tastic glasses led to me to get contacts when I was only 13.)

    I coulda swore that the restaurant in the parking lot of the UA Theaters was once a Stuart Anderson’s Cattle Company.

    I remember seeing ET at the UA theater, with my mom and brother balling their eyes out at the ending. Right afterword, we went with my mom to renew her license at the Hennepin County Gov’t Center down the block, and she had red puffy eyes in her license pic for 4 years…

  7. Dave on March 21, 2009 at 10:01 PM

    The original video store was called US Video. It was owned by a guy who was big into movie theaters that showed naughty movies. It was on the far east end of the mall.

  8. WeightWatcher on May 22, 2009 at 9:47 AM

    Fun site! This Weight Watchers location IS open for business. I just attended a meeting there last night.

  9. Tracy on August 17, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    I went to that movie theatre back in 2001 or so with my Mom, my friend, and her boyfriend to see that movie called “The Others” with Nicole Kidman. This creepy looking guy followed my Mom and I into the theatre, and just stood there staring at us until the lights dimmed, and the movie started. I also remember some man selling movie posters for $1. I bought one poster from that movie called “Evolution” which starred David Duchovny. Haven’t been back there since. Anyway, I love this website; it brings back many memories for me! :)

  10. Tracy on August 17, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    Oh, it was “The Brookdale 8″ movie theatre that’s mentioned in my previous post. I do remember that other movie theatre as well. I saw “The Neverending Story” there in 1984 with my friend. It was her birthday.

  11. The Fonz on May 1, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    I went to a budget movie or two at this theater, and I was sure it had to be closed at this point, even though I remember being surprised to find listings for it in the newspaper a year or two ago. A quick search of the website domain in you pic shows the theater is still going strong in 2011, showing second-run flicks cheap and some foreign films at premium prices. Given the demographics of Brooklyn Center, I’m not surprised it has a foreign film selection. I may not be a foreign film aficionado, but I’m surprised I didn’t know there was an outlet for such films in the north metro.

    I, too, went to Springbrook occasionally during my college and post-college years. I think I saw Jurassic Park there on New Year’s Day, many months after it opened. (Ah, the old days, when a big movie would have a six-month run from major theater status to discount theater. Nowadays it’s the rare movie that isn’t on DVD and blu-ray six months after its release.)

    Besides the former first-run movie house in Maple Grove, Mann Theaters also operates a budget theater in downtown Hopkins. The place was built new in downtown as part of a redevelopment plan, and has always been a budget theater, as I understand.

  12. The Fonz on May 1, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    Oh yeah, that 4-screen BC cinema was a big deal back in its day. In the 1980s nobody had more than four screens that I recall, and nobody had five four prints of a new movie running every half hour. If a new Indiana Jones movie came out, no theater had more than one showing of it, and not every theater would get it. It was a big deal to have it.

    I remember going to an Indiana Jones movie at that BC cinema within a few weeks of it opening. We had to get there early and wait in the lobby for a couple of hours in order to see it. Nowadays you buy your ticket online in advance and show up early to get a decent seat, but you don’t go 2-3 hours ahead of showtime just to see the next big Hollywood blockbuster.

    And from what I saw recently, that religious event center is still plugging away.

  13. sitaji on August 1, 2011 at 10:32 PM

    I see all my Indian films at the Brookdale 8! It still survives! Great and dismal post, like the site.

  14. [...] ’90s (the Coon Rapids Springbrook Theater began showing $1 movies in the mid-’90s and both theaters near Brookdale were still first-run theaters at the [...]

  15. [...] my first big purchase as an adult at the Brookdale Square Circuit City (you can see photos on the Brookdale Square post). I still have the paper trail to prove it. My cell phone has more storage capacity than this [...]

  16. Francisco on May 31, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    There used to be a killer Chinese place in that mall that had a great buffet. I went there and grubbed frequently. I have so many fond memories of the Mall and hanging out w/ friends during the K-12 years. I saw Tales from the Crypt Demon Knight 3 X at the Brookdale Theater and every other POS movie that came out in the early-mid 90′s. I also remember seeing Seven at the “white” cinema and it seems like they often had better movies than the Brookdale place. They definitely got more of the independent arty sort of films. I can’t believe what a pit this area has become. It hurts quite a bit to see these areas (Brooklyn Park/Center) fall into such squalor.

  17. Stevie B. on June 12, 2012 at 9:54 AM

    When I was in high school (class of ’84), every Tuesday night was movie night at the good old UA because every movie was $1. We saw every movie, good or bad, just because it cost a buck. That trend even continued for me through college at the Roseville UA. I also remember seeing “The Wall” and “Song Remains the Same” for the first time when they used to show “Midnight Movies”.

  18. [...] my go-to store for CDs, CD players, VHS cassettes and computer software. I didn’t care for Circuit City all that much, even though I did buy my first computer [...]

  19. Lazy J on August 24, 2012 at 1:02 AM

    I earned my black belt from that USA Karate. I also worked at that UA theater back in 1988 as an usher. It was a great job for a sixteen year old kid like me. My duties were to keep the ice bins full and clean the theaters after each show… maybe tear a ticket from time to time.

    The managers were grade A jerks, but luckily they stayed upstairs in the office most of the time, leaving the guy I worked with and I to screw around as we saw fit. And we saw fit a LOT.

    We would be responsible for changing the movie titles on that great big marquee out on Shingle Creek Parkway. We would haul the latter out there in my parent’s station wagon, swap the titles out and clown around up there to amuse passing traffic. There is a steel bar up there that the latter hooks on to. After (or during) the title swap, we would hold on to the bar with one hand and wave to traffic as they drove by and honked while we dangled fifteen feet or so above the sidewalk.

    OSHA would not have approved.

  20. The Old Scowl on January 11, 2014 at 2:50 PM

    Well, it looks like all things with “Brookdale” in their name are being erased in Brooklyn Center. Brookdale Center has been bought by the city (like the auto dealership south of the site, and I believe the former Ground Round site), and will be redeveloped for housing or retail. I would strongly prefer retail, since the city, and certainly the area around Brookdale would benefit tremendously from more variety of that. Link is below:

    snippet from the text (I wish the wry commentary in the first sentence was not there, it’s a little too much of a snip at an area that does not need more cuts to it):

    No, it’s not THAT Brookdale (otherwise known as the former and somewhat infamous Brookdale Mall, now primarily a Wal-Mart store).

    Brookdale Square, just north of Shingle Creek Crossings — otherwise known as the refurbished Brookdale Mall site — has been sold for $3.9 million to the city of Brooklyn Center.

    Jeff Budish, one of the CBRE brokers on the deal, said the city plans to market the property to developers for housing and retail (The city also owns the adjacent land south of the property.)

    Brookdale Square, at 5900 Shingle Creek Parkway, is a pretty sizable site at 23 acres with 185,800 square feet of existing retail.

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