Ford City Mall
Entrance sign along Cicero Avenue.
|Location||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Management||U.S. Equities Realty|
|No. of stores and services||135|
|No. of anchor tenants||2|
Ford City Mall is a shopping center located on the Southwest Side of Chicago in the West Lawn neighborhood at 76th Street and Cicero Avenue.  Opened in 1965, Ford City is the largest enclosed mall in Chicago outside of downtown. Anchored by Carson Pirie Scott and JCPenney, the mall contains more than 135 stores and restaurants including Applebee’s, Bath & Body Works, The Children’s Place, Footlocker, Kay Jewelers, Marshall’s, Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret, and 5-7-9. There are several out parcels including a 14-theater AMC Cinema. Ford City Mall is managed by U.S. Equities Realty.
Construction started in 1942. The purpose for construction was to build a defense plant. Approximately 17,000 workers were employed. This caused the southwest side of the city to become more populated as more people were moving there for work. By October, Building No. 1 was finished. Testing of aircraft engines to be used for the B29 bomber began. By the spring of 1943, 10 buildings, made of steel, concrete and wood, had been constructed. The building covered approximately 6,000,000 square feet (560,000 m2). The largest building was Building No. 4. It covered 62 acres (250,000 m2), and it was built out of reinforced concrete. The plant contained 7,000 miles (11,000 km) of underground piping and 15 miles (24 km) of cables and wires for water and power.
By December 1945, the plant was left vacant due to the end of the war. The government attempted to sell it without success. It was later retrofitted for automobile production for Tucker Corporation and then Ford Motor Company.
The building remained a white elephant until the Korean War, when it was reopened to build airplane engines for the war effort, under contract from Ford Motor Company. The Ford company modernized everything inside the building, employing nearly 12,000 people. The building closed again in 1959.
In 1961, the government sold it to Harry F Chaddick, who along with other investors planned to develop a shopping center. Some buildings were torn down to make room for parking lots. The buildings that remained were remodeled to attract retail tenants.
Developers divided the building into a separate portion for the mall. The mall opened in 1965 as Ford City. The mall consists of two halves - a strip mall and enclosed mall. The strip mall portion is connected to the enclosed mall by a tunnel called "The Connection". It utilizes the basement between the severed halves of the buildings directly below the parking lot. The Connection was originally called Peacock Alley from the late 60s through some time in the 1980s. Wieboldt's occupied the western-facing space until 1987 when Carson Pirie Scott moved in. The southern-facing space was last occupied by Montgomery Ward until that chain's bankruptcy. JCPenney occupies the eastern facing space.
Until February 2008, the mall was managed by General Growth Properties Inc. for a private investment company.
In 2009-2010, Ford City Mall began a multi-million dollar long term capital redevelopment program undertaking North Mall infrastructure work, Cicero Avenue frontage and North Mall parking lot resurfacing. During this time new tenants such as Conway’s, US Cellular, Rodeo, Amici, Star Diamond Jewelers, GNC, She Bar, Eldorado Fine Jewelers, Avon, China Max, Sprint, and others opened for business at Ford City Mall. In early 2011, for the second phase of the long term capital redevelopment plan, the Cicero Avenue pylon signs were refurbished, giving tenants the ability to gain maximum store signage exposure along heavily trafficked Cicero Avenue.
As part of the 2011 capital redevelopment program, Ford City Mall is in the process of demolishing several small outparcel buildings and a former vacant anchor store, leading the way to future development options under discussion at this time.
In the summer of 2012, Ford City Mall closed part of The Connection and moved all retailers upstairs.
Mall renovations are planned to begin in 2014. Some of these renovations include exterior changes, better lighting and updated landscaping .
Orange Line Extension
The original plans for the Orange Line called for the terminus to be at Ford City, but due to lack of funding, the city decided to end the line at Midway Airport with a layout allowing for future expansion. In 2008, the Chicago Transit Authority undertook an Alternatives Analysis for the Orange Line extension to Ford City and determined that the cost of project stands at an estimated $200 million. On August 12, 2009, the CTA approved the extension plans but it is currently awaiting funding.
- Mayer, Harold (1969). Chicago: Growth of a Metropolis. University of Chicago. p. 428. ISBN 0-226-51273-8.
- Knox, Douglas. "West Lawn". Retrieved 2007-01-04.
- General Growth Properties - Illinois Malls
- Chicago-l.org. (2008). "Operations - Line > Midway", Chicago-l.org
- Chicago Transit Authority. (2008). "Orange Line Extension Alternatives Analysis Study Screen 1 Analysis", CTA Analysis Study