Woodfield Mall reveals new interior look to take shape in 2015
Woodfield Mall officials Tuesday morning revealed details and renderings of a planned $13.9 million renovation expected to begin almost immediately.
Among the major aspects of the "design enhancement" are the removal of brick features that date back to the Schaumburg shopping center's 1971 beginnings.
In their place come modern glass railings and ceramic flooring, the addition of a new large-capacity elevator and two escalators, and two new elevators to replace the old ones.
The modernization also includes upgrades to the seating areas throughout the mall, replacement of all the flooring, a new carpet on the upper level, and improved directional signs both inside and outside.
Though the scope of the project is extensive, the popular center -- one of Illinois' biggest tourist attractions -- is expected to remain open during construction throughout 2015. The gradual project will have only a minimal impact on shoppers, officials said.
General Manager David Gott said visibility and accessibility will be enhanced significantly. Today, the brick walls in the grand court restrict sight lines in various directions.
"We're pretty excited because what we're talking about is the continued evolution of Woodfield Mall," Gott said. "This style evolution isn't just good news for the customer; it's good for the local economy."
Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson agreed, adding that Woodfield receives instant name recognition at conferences he attends all over the country.
"Woodfield is constantly reinventing itself," Larson said. "Rather than sitting on the sidelines and letting the world go by, they are creating their own world."
Retail analysts like Dave Aron, associate professor of marketing at Dominican University in River Forest, said a cosmetic change like that unveiled Tuesday isn't likely to draw more people to Woodfield by itself.
But it could be seen as complementary to current and imminent tenant changes that are destinations in their own right, Aron said. A prime example is the Pac-Man-themed Level 257 restaurant and entertainment center opening at the mall in the next few weeks.
While there's room for even a few more restaurants at Woodfield, Gott said the center's primary association with retail is expected to endure for a long time to come.
"The shopping experience will continue to thrive because the (Internet) isn't social," Gott said. "There's always going to be a desire to go out and be social."
Woodfield was not only the origin of Schaumburg's place as the commercial capital of the Northwest suburbs, but it remains an integral part of that distinction, Village Manager Brian Townsend said.
As much as Schaumburg has worked to diversify its economy with hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, car dealerships and office buildings, Woodfield is still "the straw that stirs the drink," Townsend said.
The mall alone provides 22 percent of Schaumburg's sales tax revenue -- about $11 million per year.
The coming facelift is not the first the 2.2 million-square-foot Woodfield has received in its 44 years.
A $110 million expansion 20 years ago added the wing that now houses the Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor anchor stores, as well as many additional specialty stores.
About 11 years ago, the mall dispensed with its original fountain, as well as the waterfall and aquarium tanks that looped underneath it, near the grand court.
The space that has been the Improv Comedy Club since 2006 was previously an ice rink in the 1970s, movie theaters in the 1990s, and a Mars 2112 restaurant in the early years of the 21st century.