Asher Jackson's Commentary

Posted May 5, 2008 (user submitted)

I distinctly remember an upscale mall called The Conservatory being built on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis the year that I graduated from high school (1987). It could easily go down in history as one of the most famous failures in the entire history of urban revitalization. The mall was incredibly modern and ornate with marble floors, live plants, a huge wall of water in the main entry, and the most exclusive boutique shops available at the time. It opened to great fanfare and...nobody came. Ever. Part of the reason for its failure was the awful, labyrinthine layout--it was literally impossible to find where anything was, and once you entered, you might never be able to find your way back out (the up escalators were on opposite end of the building from the down escalators on every floor). If you can find anyone willing to share pictures of this mall, you will immediately be able to see exactly what I am talking about--the problems with layout and design were that obvious. I can't remember exactly how long the mall itself was open, but by early 1998 when the building was torn down, the building had already been empty for about half of its one decade of existence. The building came and went so fast that it didn't even have time to undergo a physical decline in the way that most of the places on this website did. The Conservatory will not be missed, and many people actually rejoiced when it was demolished, but it probably deserves to be remembered as a rare example of a surprisingly upscale failure.

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