Replacing the Chicago suburbs’ first shopping mall with a lifestyle center

A number of older shopping malls have not aged well. Randhurst Village in Mount Prospect now stands where the Chicago suburbs’ first shopping mall once stood:

When Randhurst first opened in 1962, carved from a farm at Rand and Elmhurst roads in Mount Prospect, it announced that the Northwest suburbs had arrived, said Greg Peerbolte, executive director of the Mount Prospect Historical Society and author of “Randhurst: Suburban Chicago’s Grandest Shopping Center.”

Peerbolte emphasized the importance of the mall in the development of the suburbs. “Randhurst didn’t open the floodgates; Randhurst was the floodgate,” he said…

By 2007, the village of Mount Prospect felt something drastic had to be done. Randhurst had already had several “makeovers,” and the village’s leadership felt another one would be ineffective. Officials worried for their sales tax receipts, which are key to having the money to run the village’s public services.

The village partnered with Casto Development and took a bold shot — tear it down, and start over.

The new structure seems to represent the new wave of mall development: it is a “lifestyle center” with a variety of uses that helps guarantee a steady flow of visitors. Such a move might help visitors drop older ideas about malls, sterile buildings surrounded by acres of parking lots, and start seeing them as vibrant places that may even double as “community centers.”

The article suggests that Mount Prospect was unusual in taking the step of completely tearing down the old structure and starting anew. Since previous revitalization efforts had failed, perhaps this was the only move remaining. At the same time, it seems like a community would have to be pretty confident or secure in order to make this move.