How shoppers navigate construction at Woodfield
New businesses come to Woodfield as renovation continues
Halfway between holiday shopping seasons, Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall is at the height of construction on its ambitious, $13.9 million renovation.
"This is as destroyed-looking as it's going to get," General Manager David Gott said Monday while overlooking the Grand Canyon-like pit of the mall's center court. "We're ahead in just about every area. It hasn't affected sales one little bit. We've had a nice sales trend."
With virtually all the loud, heavy work taking place during the night, a typical crowd of midday shoppers takes the construction site in stride -- merely a new visual element at one of the largest indoor shopping centers in the country.
In the course of the work, some knowledge of Woodfield's original 1971 construction was rediscovered -- including that the aquarium which sat just below the center court before its removal 11 years ago might have been the safest place in Cook County to shelter from a tornado, Gott said.
The heavily reinforced concrete walls that contained the aquarium remained after its removal. Their eventual demolition this spring required the most intensive effort of the project, Gott said.
The flow of new tenants to the mall has been as uninterrupted in the midst of renovation as that of shoppers, he added. Recent months have seen the opening of Fly Zone at Kids Foot Locker, Flight 23 at Footaction, Eyebrow Designer 21, rue 21, and the first Illinois location of SIX:02.
Stores and restaurants that have reopened after their own remodeling projects recently include Vans, Bachrach, Red Robin and Jimmy John's.
Kinfork, a new dining option featuring classic American fare, is expected to open soon.
Gott said it's difficult to say how much the mall's renovation played a part in attracting the new tenants. Mall owner Simon Property Group has talked about the project to prospective tenants since January 2013, but it wasn't publicly announced until January of this year.
Among the key objectives of the project is to improve the visibility of tenants and ease of movement through the mall. The former has been achieved in large part by removing the original brick elements of the interior, while the latter has involved eliminating step-down seating areas and increasing the efficiency of ramps, elevators and escalators.
One of the two existing elevators in the center court is in the process of being replaced while a third is about to be built. Removal of the second existing elevator is likely to be the only part of the project that extends beyond the arrival of Santa's Winter Wonderland in early November, Gott said.
While the project seeks to eliminate many of Woodfield's original elements that wouldn't have been designed for a 21st century mall, one feature likely to stay forever is the intricately designed ceiling, Gott said.
With its combination of decorativeness and natural lighting, the ceiling is considered an asset without need of replacement, he said. It was designed by Taubman Co. founder Alfred Taubman, who died last month at the age of 91.
Schaumburg officials consider Woodfield the catalyst of the diversified economy the village has built up over the past 44 years. Even today, the mall generates 22 percent of Schaumburg's annual sales tax revenue -- about $11 million.