Mall of India under construction at Naperville former Walmart
When Walmart moved about five years ago to a supercenter at 2552 W. 75th St. in Naperville, it left a big-box vacancy at its former store on Route 59.
But now a plan is in the works to turn the old Walmart at 776 S. Route 59 into an indoor shopping and services center called the Mall of India.
Construction began last week to build the new mall featuring a grocery store and food court, along with smaller businesses including a spa, dentist, halal butcher shop, lawyer's office, jewelry shop and boutiques, said Shilpa Purohit, the project architect.
"This is a huge project," said Purohit with Purohit Architects in Schaumburg. "A lot of the Indian community is very excited about this."
Crews are "completely gutting" the 116,000-square-foot former Walmart and turning it into 27 tenant spaces and 10 food court kitchens. A former garden center adjacent but not connected internally to the rest of the building will be set aside as a potential future community gathering space, banquet hall or cultural center, Purohit said.
Mall of India owners and suburban technology professionals Vinoz Chanamolu and Anil Sunkara are working with a range of businesses to offer cultural and modern products and services inside the mall. A similar concept featuring multiple businesses catering to Indian-Americans exists in the Atlanta area, Purohit said, giving the local owners one model to follow.
"It's still a very fresh idea," Purohit said. "With Naperville being one of the areas where we have a large concentration of Asian and Indian populations, they are looking into seeing how it all comes along."
Owners are targeting a Texas-based national chain grocer to open its first Illinois location inside the Mall of India and are reaching out to established restaurants in the Chicago area to become food court tenants.
The mall is expected to open July 1.