Schaumburg's economic well-being has been tied to Woodfield Mall for more than 40 years.
Mayor Al Larson says he wouldn't have wanted anyone else in charge of such an important position during the challenging first decade of the 21st century than now departing General Manager Marc Strich.
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"The numbers tell the story better than I could," Larson said Tuesday. "Woodfield does a particularly good job finding and retaining tenants. They've maintained something like 97 percent occupancy -- that's a phenomenal job in this kind of economic climate and he's got to take a lot of credit for that."
Strich, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, arrived at Woodfield in 2001. He will transfer in January to the Wellington Green Mall in West Palm Beach, Fla., as Simon Property Group takes over management of Woodfield from The Taubman Co. that first developed it.
According to his letter resigning from the board of directors of the Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau, Strich also will be involved with special projects in Korea and China, as well as the opening of a new Taubman mall in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Larson said Strich's involvement with the convention bureau is just one example of how he's been a leader in the local business community apart from his work at the mall.
Strich also has freely shared his retail experience and expertise as a member of the Schaumburg Business Development Commission, Larson said.
"Another thing about Marc Strich is the guy is very approachable," the mayor said. "Talking to him is like talking to your next-door neighbor."
Schaumburg has remained competitive, even dominant, in a market filled with newer shopping centers and online retailers because of the high standards Strich has maintained at Woodfield, Larson said.
"It's not an older shopping center -- it's one that rejuvenates itself every few years," he said.
At regular intervals, each tenant is required to revamp its store if it is interested in renewing its lease, Larson said. And shoppers give up the comforts of home to shop there because of the guaranteed high quality of the merchandise there, he added.
Moving ahead without Strich for the first time in more than a decade, and without Taubman for the first time ever, presents a big unknown for the village, Larson said. But he hopes Simon Property Group will recognize and honor the high standards it's inheriting.
"I don't know, we'll see," he said. "The expectations are to maintain the level of excellence Marc Strich set as a benchmark."