Be it the charming but dated Venetian carousel, the generic food court or basement doubling as a community's nuclear bomb shelter, Randhurst Shopping Center had become obsolete in its final years.
Attendance toward the end, largely made up of suburban moms looking for an empty indoor playground, was a far cry from the fanfare surrounding the Mount Prospect mall's opening in 1962.
The village is now entering a new commercial era, however, with Randhurst Village -- a big box meets Main Street hybrid -- on the verge of completion.
"Randhurst is the largest and most critical property in Mount Prospect, and making it into a viable economic engine is vital to the village not just financially, but from a visibility standpoint," said Bill Cooney, Mount Prospect's community development director.
Leaders behind the $200 million project, comprised of 1 million square feet of retail, restaurant, theater, hotel and office space, believe it will thrive.
They point to the demographics within five miles of the 100 acres at Rand and Elmhurst roads, which has a population of more than 321,000 people with an average household income of nearly $80,000, according to developer Casto Lifestyle Properties.
There are also 230,500 daytime employees in the immediate area to support business.
Those surroundings are very different from the struggling Arboretum of South Barrington, which was put up for sale earlier this month. Despite its affluent neighbors, the center is located in a far more sparsely populated area with forest preserve and Interstate 90 further removing it from shoppers.
"We think we're opening in the right location at the right time," Casto Director of Development Jim Conroy said. "We're well-spaced between Deer Park and Woodfield, and the financial strength of the people in the area supports retail."
Conroy said business is strong since Sports Authority's and Carson Pirie Scott's recent openings. Bed, Bath and Beyond, Costco, Home Depot, Jewel, Borders, Old Navy and AMC Theaters are the other anchors.
AMC Randhurst 12, scheduled for a soft opening on April 22, 2011, will have four fewer screens than the current theater but house about 2,000 larger, rocking seats and areas with skybox-like seating made to feel like a living room. It will feature state-of-the-art digital projection, 3-D screens and live broadcast capabilities.
PetSmart will open in the theater's building but not until sometime next fall, after AMC moves to its new facility.
Conroy said the Hampton Inn and Suites being built next to Costco is slightly behind schedule, but still due to open in late summer. The steel frame is now being built on the four-story structure.
"Instead of a one-story strip center you have different elevations that make it more interesting architecturally," Conroy said.
The smaller retailers that will fill the Main Street part of Randhurst Village are expected to open in late spring.
Conroy said that in addition to being close to signing a few businesses, Randhurst Village has in recent weeks secured tenants including Billy Goat Tavern, Tony Sacco's Pizza and Subway restaurants, as well as Charming Charlie women's accessories. PNC Bank is now open and Pei Wei Asian Dinner is finishing its interior work.
Randhurst Village is expected to generate about $1 million more in sales tax revenue for Mount Prospect than the former mall, which brought in about $3.65 million in 2007, its final full year.
To help fund the center, the village passed a $25 million aid package that increased the local hotel tax from 3 to 6 percent; added a quarter percent "business district retailer's occupation" tax for Randhurst occupants; added a 25-cent amusement tax for movie ticket sales; and required all food and beverage taxes generated by the site to go back into the redevelopment fund.
The project's estimated cost was raised from $150 million to $200 million, but Conroy said a favorable bidding climate will ensure Randhurst Village comes in under budget. A contemplated residential component was eliminated due to the economy.