That was not another round of All-Star fighter jets you heard over the west 'burbs last night. It was the celebratory claps and cheers of designer bargain hunters as the long rumored retail news was finally confirmed: Nordstrom Rack will open at Knollwood Mall.
Only we're no longer calling it Knollwood Mall. The oddly compelling St. Louis Park shopping center is henceforth to be known as the Shops at Knollwood. Take that, West End.
Knollwood is one of those places that only a longtime Minnesotan can truly appreciate. Developed in the 1950s as a strip center with Red Owl, Powers and Woolworth, it became an enclosed mall that children of the '80s remember as a primo hangout, with record stores and sticker stores and movie theaters and Spencer Gifts. Plus, a shop to spin-paint a t-shirt, because in 1989, nothing was cooler than paint splatter. Except maybe Zubaz.
There is nothing left of Knollwood to suggest the bustling center it once was. And yet, the Knollwood T.J. Maxx has the best selection of designer merchandise of any location in town. And at the opposite end of the cavernous corridor (that will be demolished in an upcoming remodel), it's often difficult to get a table at Panera, thanks in large part to the Foss Swim School right across the hall. (To this day, my children associate swimming with grilled cheese and Go-Gurt.)
Finally, owner/manager Rouse Properties is giving Knollwood the makeover it so badly needs. That interior corridor is being removed to turn Knollwood into what the industry likes to call a "power center," which is to say, a strip center, with a handful of big box stores with separate entrances. Panera will shift to the middle of the center. Foss Swim School will get its own entrance and a larger retail space in front (the school will run an abbreviated fall session to accommodate being closed in December for construction. Foss will re-open at Knollwood in January). And next spring, Nordstrom Rack—the off-price division of Nordstrom—will open at Knollwood, which is a good distance from Nordstrom Rack's two other Twin Cities stores at Mall of America and in Maple Grove. The Rack joins Kohl's, DSW, Old Navy, T.J. Maxx Home Goods and Cub Foods, which are all sticking around for Knollwood's next chapter. I really hope they bring back the party supply store.