Demolition of Stratford Square Mall could begin in late summer

The days of shopping at Stratford Square Mall, which closed permanently last month, are all but a memory.

Now, Bloomingdale officials are working with engineers and utility companies on how to go about demolishing the empty hulk.

“We are hoping to begin the demolition sometime later this summer, probably toward the end of summer,” Village Administrator Pietro Scalera said Monday. “We don't have an exact date yet.”

Tearing down the mall buildings will clear the path for a large-scale redevelopment. Bloomingdale officials say they aim to revitalize the area with a mix of restaurants, entertainment venues, retail and housing options as well as public open space that could host summer markets or winter festivals.

“That’s the key to whatever concept we do end up with is having a large community gathering area that can be utilized year round,” Scalera said.

Village leaders tried for years to recruit retailers to the languishing mall. Bloomingdale officials also tried to partner on a joint venture with Namdar Realty Group, a New York-based commercial real estate firm that acquired the interior portion of the mall in October 2019.

But negotiations faltered, and the village began buying the mall’s vacant anchor stores. Earlier this year, the village purchased the last piece — the core of the mall — for $8.75 million to pave the way for a fresh start.

“The mayor and the board have always said that we are not going to be long-term property owners,” Scalera said. “So as we find uses that are compatible with the development plan, our goal is to sell that property to that developer once the plan has been approved.”

The existing Kohl's store will stay open during demolition. Officials plan to keep the retailer as part of a redevelopment project.

But saving the mall is not feasible because much of its mechanical system is no longer operational or “barely getting by,” Scalera said. A hole in the roof over the Carson’s department store, for example, takes in water whenever it rains.

Stratford Square opened in the mall-rat era of the 1980s.

“It's not functional any longer, and I know that a lot of the people that are making that pitch to save the mall, a lot of them — and I do, too — I have a fond remembrance of the mall,” Scalera said. “However, it's just something that's not economically feasible.”

  The village of Bloomingdale is spearheading the redevelopment of the Stratford Square Mall property with the help of architectural and engineering firms. John Starks/, August 2022

The village has so far spent about $362,000 to maintain the mall since taking over the property in January. That figure, Scalera said, includes personnel used to keep the mall open until Stratford Square shut its doors in April; some repairs the village had to make while businesses were still in the mall; contract services; and ongoing security.

“Now that the mall is vacant, we are hoping to see a slight reduction of that cost until we actually demo the buildings,” Scalera said.

The village released the maintenance cost and other details on its Facebook page after receiving a request for information about the mall.

“We felt that transparency is very important in this process because what happens at the mall is significant to the community and will have a long impact on the … image of Bloomingdale,” Scalera said.

Officials expect to seek bids for the demolition work in the next few months. Depending on the cost, the village may issue bonds or may be able to use some existing funds to pay for the demolition, Scalera said.

“We are in a very strong financial position that is allowing us to do this Stratford project and to take that initiative and lead on the progress of redeveloping that area,” he said.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.