After getting a full-scale makeover, Oakbrook Center is ready for its coming-out party.
The mall is playing host to a Friday event that will both launch the holiday season and commemorate the completion of its first major renovation in decades.
If you goWhat: Oakbrook Center's Holiday Spectacular
When: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22.
Where: Oakbrook Center, in the Village Green near Crate & Barrel
Info: Visit oakbrookcenter.com or call (630) 573-0700
"We have a lot to celebrate this year, so we are going above and beyond to create an unmatched holiday atmosphere for our guests," said Suzanne Cook-Beres, Oakbrook Center's senior marketing manager.
The outdoor mall, which opened in March 1962 at the corner of 22nd Street and Route 83 in Oak Brook, has long enjoyed a reputation for upscale shopping. But several years ago, it became clear the 52-year-old mall had become "outdated" and "was in need of a facelift," according to Chuck Fleming, senior general manager.
"It was a beautiful place to be, but we needed to modernize some of the amenities," he said.
So the mall's owners -- General Growth Properties, Inc. -- pursued the massive renovation project. Improvements include new walkways, signs, landscaping, redesigned common areas, and the addition of new retailers, restaurants and amenities.
"Shopping centers need to reinvent themselves from time to time," Fleming said. "We're attempting to address the concerns and desires and wants of our next generation of shoppers."
Officials say the focal point of the newly renovated mall is an all-weather vortex fountain that combines a water display with lighting effects. Another new feature is the "Village Green," which is an open lawn area near Crate & Barrel that will be used for seasonal entertainment and special events.
"Maybe someday we'll have movies in the park," said Fleming, adding the mall is seeking permission from Oak Brook village officials to add a digital screen to the area.
Cook-Beres said the Village Green will be the location of Friday's "Holiday Spectacular," which runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. The event will include a 7:15 p.m. illuminated lantern night processional, a 7:30 p.m. performance by DJ Fire on his "fire organ" and an appearance by Santa Claus.
"There's going to be a lot of unique entertainment for children and adults alike," said Cook-Beres, adding that Santa will visit the mall for the first time in decades.
Guests will be able to meet Jolly Old St. Nick in the mall's new "glass pavilion." Located across from Starbucks and Sears, the enclosed glass pavilion has soft seating, along with a warming fireplace during the winter and additional cafe seating when it's warm.
Another feature shoppers are expected to enjoy this winter are the fire totems located near Neiman Marcus.
During the two-year renovation, Oakbrook Center added 14 new retailers, officials said. In addition, four of the shopping center's anchor department stores -- Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Macy's and Neiman Marcus -- have completed extensive interior enhancements. Other stores have relocated to new and redesigned spaces.
Next year, the mall will welcome several new tenants, including the Container Store, Le Meridien, a luxury hotel; and Zara, an international fashion retailer for men, women and children. PIRCH, a California-based experiential retail showroom specializing in premium lifestyle products for the home, also is scheduled to open its first Midwest location.
Fleming said he's eager for shoppers to see all the changes at Oakbrook Center.
"We've been under construction for so long, it will be nice to take the barricades down," he said. "I'm excited to see the reaction and how the general public likes it."