Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What to do with Brookdale

It's finally and officially closed. The biggest joke of Twin Cities regional shopping malls has shut its doors but now the question has turned to "What do we do with Brookdale?" I may not be the best guy to ponder the multitude of answers because I'm from the opposite end of the Twin Cities but Brooklyn Center isn't exactly an impressive place when Brookdale was the retail center of the community. Beginning right at its logo, the mall seemed to be a bit of a joke - especially in the seven years I've lived here. Every televised promotion I saw for Brookdale seemed rather low rent or even ghetto in nature (the crappy boy band concert-turned-riot didn't help matters). While that may have been an accurate portrayal of what the mall represented it isn't exactly the image you want to portray to attract a wide swath of the population.

And that failure to attract a wide swath of the population at least in part contributed to the mall's downfall. That and the fact that the mall was essentially a hangout for gangs, thugs and lowlifes - that doesn't exactly help to draw families looking to shop.

But the big question now is "What do we do with a huge, vacant building in the middle of a first-ring suburb?" Ideally, this huge space would be developed in to something actually useable for the community as a whole. Realistically, because it's basically a building that will have to be demolished sitting on a huge, paved piece of real estate, the former Brookdale will sit and crumble as it goes through a vicious and endless cycle of defaults and foreclosures. Maybe, after about twenty years of this cycle, it will end up in the hands of the city of Brooklyn Center itself and then it can become a community gathering place (not a mall) where families can congregate. Maybe it could truly be a center for the community but that's a lot of utopian wishful thinking on my part. Hell, do people actually associate with others in public anymore?

There's also a lot of talk about the Brookdale site being perfect for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium. The only problem is that the current owner/developer would demand a price for this shit hole that would make potential buyers wonder if millions of tons of gold sat just beneath the cracked and crumbling asphalt of the parking lot. Sure, it has decent freeway access and is truly a huge piece of property but there's another huge piece of property perfect for a new Vikings stadium - it's called the Metrodome.

If given free reign, though, what would your dream consist of for redeveloping the now shuttered Brookdale site? A park, a transit station, a new urban center/downtown development? Have at it.

When you're done, click on over to MinnPics and see what the latest photographic treasure of Minnesota has been found for your enjoyment!

No comments: