Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Tribe in talks for hotel in next Mall of America expansion

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community may play a key role in the next proposed expansion of the Mall of America.

The SMSC confirmed today that it is in talks with the Mall of America and Mortenson Development, Inc. to finance a new luxury hotel planned for the north side of the Bloomington mall. The tribe runs the Mystic Lake and Little Six casinos near Shakopee. They also have a hotel at Mystic Lake with nearly 600 rooms.

The Mall of America is planning to include a hotel with about 330 rooms in an expansion expected to break ground this fall. Plans call for an additional 150,000 square feet of retail space, a welcome center for international visitors, new dining options, an atrium event center and other features. The expansion is expected to cost about $230 million.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is one of a number of potential investors the mall's management has approached about putting money into the expansion, called the Phase 1C project, Mall of America spokesman Dan Jasper said. He said the mall was not pursuing a gaming outlet as part of the project.

"We have no plans for a casino on site," Jasper said in an interview. He also noted that state law and local ordinance wouldn't permit it.

Mall of America officials said such an investment would be an extension of their current business relationship. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community has had a Mystic Lake store at the mall since 2001.

"We are still conducting the necessary due diligence to ensure that the investment is a good fit for our community," the tribe said in a statement issued this afternoon, after an inquiry by MPR News. "However, it is in our market, and we believe it would help diversify our investments and further strengthen our relationship with MOA."

If the SMSC does invest in the hotel, it would be the second major hospitality move for a Minnesota Native American group off their traditional reservation land. The Mille Lacs band of Ojibwe closed on the purchase of the Crown Plaza and DoubleTree Hilton hotels in downtown St. Paul in March.

It would also be the second big hotel project at the Mall of America. The $137.5 million Radisson Blu opened there in March. The expansion that includes the next hotel is planned to open in 2015.


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