Suburban towns struggle to repurpose vacant, failed shopping malls
Huntley is the latest suburban community struggling to repurpose a failed suburban shopping mall.
Many others have tried, and some have succeeded in reviving once vibrant shopping centers that have lost their luster. Here are some of their experiences:
• A casino is envisioned for the former Lakehurst Shopping Center site in Waukegan, which closed in 2001 and was demolished in 2004. It was the proposed site of a casino until the 10th and final state license was awarded to Des Plaines in 2008. With the latest round of gambling expansion, Waukegan could revive that dream.
• St. Charles has seen little momentum on a concept plan presented two years ago for the largely vacant former Charlestowne Mall site north of Route 64. It called for the property's complete revitalization, including a residential development, a smaller mall building and the construction of free-standing commercial structures. Mall owners have yet to make a deal with developers.
• Stratford Square Mall in Bloomingdale, which opened in 1981, has been struggling for several years having lost three anchor stores since 2014. It launched a multimillion-dollar renovation project featuring interior and exterior improvements at the 1.3 million-square-foot center. An earlier renovation included the 2014 opening of Round1, a 40,000-square-foot entertainment center featuring bowling, billiards, video games and karaoke.
Recently, the mall's lower level was redeveloped to include a roughly 9,500-square-foot brewery, which opened last fall. A new Italian restaurant called Strada Italia recently opened next to the brewery. A Texas Roadhouse restaurant is being built off the mall's ring road near Gary Avenue.
Owners now are seeking up to $2 million from a new village tax increment financing district -- steering some property tax money into redevelopment -- to help pay for the demolition of a shuttered former Macy's store and a portion of the mall to make room for a 243,000-square-foot Woodman's Food Market on roughly 19 acres near Schick Road and Gary Avenue. It will feature a 2,300-square-foot car wash and two gas stations -- one unattended and the other fully staffed with a convenience store and lube center. Several restaurants and a housing development also are planned for the site.
• Like Stratford, Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee underwent a massive redevelopment, building an exterior plaza and a new mall wing with outward-facing retail.
• Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook, Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills and Randhurst Village in Mount Prospect also have undergone sizable facelifts and expansions.
Randhurst transformed from an indoor mall into a $200 million open-air "lifestyle" center with stores, restaurants and a movie theater.
To further increase foot traffic, several suburban malls have incorporated entertainment venues. There's now a Cinemark movie theater at Spring Hill Mall in West Dundee, a Round One entertainment center at Fox Valley Mall in Aurora, an AMC Hawthorn 12 theater and a Dave & Buster's at Hawthorn Mall, a Pinstripes near Oakbrook Center and Pac-Man Entertainment (formerly Level 257) at Woodfield.