Yorktown Center officials unveiled plans Monday for an $18 million makeover for the Lombard mall that will feature a revamped food court and more dining options for shoppers.
Construction will begin Tuesday to remodel the 45-year-old enclosed mall within its existing footprint at Butterfield Road and Highland Avenue. Much of the interior work is scheduled to be completed before the holiday shopping season begins on Black Friday. The remainder of the project will be finished by late 2014.
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The mall will stay open throughout the project and much of the work will be done at night.
The renovations come about a year after a partnership of New York-based Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and YTC Pacific bought the property for roughly $196 million in April 2012. YTC Pacific is a partnership of California-based Pacific Retail Capital Partners, Florida-based Collarmele Partners and Peter Fair of Colorado-based Continuum Partners.
Yorktown had been under private ownership since it opened in 1968.
The proposed renovations draw on feedback from tenants and shoppers who called for more "comfortable surroundings," Yorktown Vice President Donna Blair said during a news conference Monday.
"They would like to see it reinvigorated," Blair said.
Upgrades in the food court will add 200 seats, entertainment screens, work stations for shoppers to plug in laptops and a family lounge. Shoppers also will see lighter fare, Blair said.
"Everybody wants to be healthy and the traditional offerings in a food court don't really give you that option," Blair said. "Of course, you always have to have some of your favorites, but it's good to introduce things that are healthier."
The center court also will be improved. Crews will remove large columns and narrow a bridge that connects the mall's upper level to boost visibility. There will be new seating, lighting, cafes and water features.
New signs inside the mall and in parking areas are designed to help shoppers navigate the center, currently housing about 150 stores. A new front entrance, made mostly of glass, will feature branding visible from Butterfield Road.
"Yorktown didn't have enough identity onto its own right," Blair said. "The only exterior signage really was for the anchor tenants themselves."
The last major overhaul at Yorktown was in 2006, when a long-vacant Montgomery Ward's store was demolished to add retail space with access from outside the mall as well as free-standing restaurants.
The food court has remained untouched since it opened two decades ago.
"You could say maybe we're overdue for remodeling for that, but with KKR's financial backing, we're really able to implement a comprehensive, well-thought-out remodeling," Yorktown General Manager Jerry Cohen said.
Blair told the Daily Herald the center is finalizing leases with retail and restaurant tenants to fill vacant spaces, but declined to disclose their names. The mall is anchored by department store chains Carson Pirie Scott, Von Maur and J.C. Penney.
"I don't see us having new anchors in the sense of big boxes, but we see our food court as a new anchor," Blair said. "It's a destination that draws people in."
She called Yorktown's leasing strategy "attainable chic."
"We are not going to attract a Gucci-type of customer," Blair said. "But we want a customer and a tenant that is really driven by quality and driven by reputation."