Iconic Thunderbird Hotel sold, set for demolition

It's the hotel that has had some famous neighbors -- Met Stadium, Met Center and the Mall of America -- but pretty soon the old Thunderbird Hotel will be nothing more than a memory.  While it was the Native American theme that made the Bloomington landmark memorable, its dated architecture has now made it expendable.

Since opening in 1962, the hotel has gone through some changes. The totem pole and Hall of Tribes are long gone, along with the Thunderbird name. Now the updated version, a Ramada, will soon become an empty lot ready for development.

“It’s a 1960s hotel that’s not up to current standards," said Bloomington Port Authority Administrator Schane Rudlang. "They’ve updated it, but to use an assessing term, it’s functionally obsolete at this point,”

Tuesday, the Bloomington Port Authority approved a $18.5 million purchase agreement for the land off East American Boulevard.  Rudlang says the Port Authority won't remain the owner of the 11.7 acre lot for long, as the land is intended for the Mall of America.

Rudlang says the city has been working with the mall to urbanize Bloomington's South Loop district, and this is part of that plan.

“It seemed like a prime time to get it under contract and acquire it and figure out what’s best for the city and the mall.”

With the sale set to be finalized within the next month, the Ramada will be out of business in 30 to 60 days, with the Port Authority planning demolition for sometime this fall.

As far as what the mall has planned for the nearly 12 acre site, no one is saying.