Knollwood Mall: St. Louis Park, MN

June 15, 2012

The Knollwood Mall Bath & Body Works still rocks the old store design

Take one look at the Knollwood Mall parking lot on a Saturday afternoon and you’d never believe this is the site of a dead mall. The parking lot is a busy, chaotic clusterfuck that stretches from the Kohls department store to the Old Navy, extending well into the Cub Foods parking lot. Frankly, I’m not sure which is a bigger pain-in-the-ass to deal with: Highway 7, where the Knollwood Mall sits or the Knollwood Mall parking lot itself.

If driving on Highway 7 doesn’t raise your blood pressure, pulling into the Knollwood Mall parking lot certainly will.

The history of this mall is interesting, so let’s delve into that first. This is all based on anecdotal information from and other various resources, so if you’re writing your dissertation on the Knollwood mall (why?), I’d think twice of using this blog as a reference.

The Knollwood Mall started its life in the 1950s as “Knollwood Plaza,” a strip mall with all outside-facing shops. If you look at this photo, Knollwood Mall looked an awful lot like the Golden Valley Shopping Center still does today.

Just looking at this photo makes me want to buy the TimeLife “Malt Shop Memories: Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” 10-disc CD set. (photo from MN Historical Society)

In the ’70s, shoppers were lovin’ the climate-controlled environment of enclosed malls, so Knollwood mall owners decided to hop on that bandwagon. Even though Knollwood Plaza was doing fine, they demo’d it and rebuilt from the ground up, turning it into the Knollwood Mall that we know and love today. Sort of, anyway.

From my research (because I never visited this until the mid-90s, so most of this info is coming from, it looks like Knollwood was a hoppin’ place until it hit the skids in 1994 and went on a slide, slide, slippery slide.

You know the Boy Who Cried Wolf right? Well, Kohls is the store that cried, “SALE!”

In 1994, Carson Piere Scott left and got replaced by Kohls. The mall at that point came under new ownership. The new owner teased St. Louis Park & Hopkins residents with the promise of a giant movie theater. He went as far as to shut down the current fourplex and close off the entire east wing of the mall to make way for the theater. Unfortunately, this move catapulted the Knollwood Mall into retail despair.

This mall has gone through more reconstructions than Michael Jackson’s face. …Too soon?

He never followed through on his promise though. Why? Was it a cruel joke? Did financing fall through? I don’t have an answer for that. The movie theater was never built and the east wing was never reconnected to the mall. So now, instead of a 16-screen megaplex, we’ve got a mall with no movie theater and entire wing of abandoned stores. This guy did a hackjob on this mall and is why today, this whole place is a disjointed mess. So if you’re wondering why stores from Old Navy on down are not connected to the mall, this is why.

In the '90s, who was the biggest tease in town? The MN Vikings or the owner of the Knollwood Mall?

In the ’90s, who was the biggest tease in town? The MN Vikings or the owner of the Knollwood Mall?

This mall has been manhandled so many times, it’s hard to picture what it originally looked like. In fact, I can’t say I’ve ever been here before all the “remodeling.” I think the only time I went here was in the mid-90s and went to the Kohls. I remember being dumbstruck on how dead this mall was even back then. The tiles on the floor, especially in the no-food “food court” and the beams on the ceiling look very ’70s, so I’m guessing other than drywalling over storefronts and sealing off entire wings, a lot of the “guts” of the mall remains the same.

Sorry, there are no restaurants in the “food court.” Oh please! Relax! This mall is not that big. I don’t think you will starve.

Today, there isn’t much here. What’s left of the enclosed space is not very big and so many of the storefronts are either drywalled over or have a crash gate up. The food court has no food (so I guess it’s a “court”, huh?) There’s a bunch of tables and chairs, but all the fast food places are drywalled over.

For the stores that are left here, you can be sure that at any given moment, one or more of the tenants in the Knollwood Mall is going out of business. When I visited, this tenant was Avenue, a ladies plus-size clothing store that had been here since 2003. If you see a new business here, it’s probably not going to make it over the 6 month hump. The lesson here is if you see something in that skin care shop you really like, buy it now, for next month it’ll be a perfumery.

Candy is good for the soul.

I wonder why they even bother with the interior mall? What, there’s like a Bath and Body Works and a GNC here, and a candy vending machine island. Why waste the electricity? Finish the job. Drywall everything off and call it a day.

The mall does still host events like indoor swap meets and sports cards shows, so I suppose they generate revenue that way. In the mall’s heyday, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny made their cameos during their respective holiday seasons. I’m sure the Knollwood Mall stop was cut from their tour schedule years ago.

There’s not a whole lot going on inside the mall, but the exterior-facing stores are hoppin’. So in other words, the mall started as an exterior-facing traditional strip mall, then became a traditional enclosed mall, then turned half the mall back to a strip mall…and now the stores with all the life are exterior-facing. What’s old is new again, right?

Like many malls built around this time, Knollwood Mall has a creepy mall basement! Unfortunately, access was closed.

As far as where everything was, I can’t tell you. From a few Google searches, I’ve been able to put this tenant list together:

Former tenants:

Powers Department store
Montgomery Wards (Now Cub Foods. No mall entrance)
JC Penny (Closed 1997)
Donaldsons/Carson Pierie Scott (now Kohls)

Mall tenants:
Four-screen movie theater
Gold Mine Arcade
Fun Shop
Walgreens (Moved across Highway 7. Now Old Navy)
Pet Ranch
Foot Locker
Christopher & Banks
Sam Goody/Musicland
Caribbean Tanning Salon
Everyday Hero (Now DSW)
Country Club Market
B Dalton
Steve and Barry’s

Food court:
Dairy Queen
1 Potato 2

Basement: (!!! Yes, this mall has a basement!)
KRS Computer & Business school
Four-screen movie theater? This is a guess. I’m making that assumption based on the Hollywood-style lights.

The basement might be closed, but you can still view from above

Current tenants:
Bath and Body Works
Panera Bread
Foss Swim School
Lane Bryant
Avenue (closing)
Dress Barn
TJ Maxx/Home Goods
AT&T Wireless
An army recruiting office
LeMonde Tailors
Coyote Furniture
A massage parlor
Merle Norman
Perfect Nails

The walls in the mall are totally, totally tall

Exterior/no mall connection
Caribou Coffee
Old Navy
Party City
Radio Shack
Cub Foods
El Patron
Leann Chin
Burger King
Great Clips

Closed off to the public.

Knollwood Mall, interior

Knollwood Mall, interior

So what do you know about Knollwood? I’ve only been here a handful of times, mostly just to eat at Panera. I’m sorry I’m not much help, but enjoy the rest of the photos! (all photos taken June 2012)

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4 Responses to Knollwood Mall: St. Louis Park, MN

  1. on June 22, 2012 at 5:55 PM

    The Kohl’s was Powers->Donaldson’s->Carson’s until 1994. Wards closed in 1997 and became Cub Foods.

    Penney’s actually closed in 1986, not 1997. Its space became TJ Maxx, then Steve & Barry’s. The current TJ Maxx/HomeGoods takes up the entire wing that would’ve been the theater.

  2. Aliecat on June 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    I used to live a mile from here and dreaded grocery shopping because of their damn parking lot. When I go to the Kohls, I specifically park in the back because the Highway 7 side is so maddening. I moved over to the West End area last year (thinking how great it would be to live near new stuff) and decided that SLP has a thing for large developments with shitty parking layouts. The Rainbow lot is a death trap, the Shops at the West End is a damn Couger gauntlet, and the Costco/Home Depot/Pet Smart lot is like the Thunderdome. AND they’re building condos right next to that Rainbow. Weird.
    BTW, have you been by that abandoned dealership next to the Hwy 100/Park Place off ramp? Looks like a perfect place to film a re-vamp of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

  3. Jill on July 7, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    I was just there over the winter because I was looking for a store. I walked through all of the mall that is not off limits only to find out the store was in the strip mall next to Target. Anyway, yeah. It was eerily dead, to the point where I wondered if I was even supposed to be in there, or if I missed the news about the zombie apocalypse.

    1 Potato 2… I forgot about that place.

  4. Kevin on August 16, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Haha, Dress Barn, what a horrible name for a ladies store!

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