The Plaza (mall)

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This article is about the shopping mall in Evergreen Park, Illinois. For other uses, see The Plaza.
The Plaza (formerly Evergreen Plaza)
Location 9500-9730 S. Western Ave.,
Evergreen Park, Illinois, United States
Opening date August 24, 1952
Closing date May 31, 2013
Developer Arthur Rubloff,[1] Charles R. Walgreen, Jr.[2]
No. of stores and services 120+
No. of anchor tenants 3
Total retail floor area 1.2 million ft.²[3]
No. of floors 2

Coordinates: 41°43′06″N 87°41′00″W / 41.7184°N 87.6833°W / 41.7184; -87.6833 The Plaza, formerly known as Evergreen Plaza,[1] is noted historically as the first modern America mall and set the standard for American mall development up until the 1980's. The Evergreen Plaza located in Evergreen Park, Illinois, (a close suburb of Chicago was planned in the 1920's legally organized by astute Arthur Rubloff who also built the Water Tower Shopping Plaza on the Chicago's famous Magnificent Mile. Rublof secured the funding and vision for the Evergreen Plaza from the Walgreen's family who lived nearby in Beverly, Chicago. The Evergreen Plaza operated from 1952 to 2013. It also featured over 120 stores, as well as a food court.

History[edit]

In 1936, Developer Arthur Rubloff first conceived a shopping mall in the Evergreen Park area located between the corners of W 95th Street and Western Ave, 98th Street and Western Ave, 98th Street Slightly west of Campbell Ave, 96th Street and Campbell Ave and 95th and Campbell Ave.[4] Opened to the public in August 1952, the mall was originally an 500,000-square-foot (46,000 m2) open-air shopping center anchored by The Fair Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Lytton's and Walgreens. The center also contained a Jewel supermarket, which featured a conveyor belt that carried groceries from the store to a parking lot kiosk.[4] The mall's Walgreens was the second self-service Walgreen pharmacy in the chain;[5] it was also the chain's first location in a shopping center.

A major expansion of the existing shopping center got underway in 1961. It would add an open-air South Wing, including a Chas. A. Stevens store, new Carson Pirie Scott, Evergreen Theatre (an early twinplex), 14-floor office tower and a parking garage. The Fair store was also expanded. It was converted to Montgomery Ward in April 1964. The mall expansion project was officially dedicated in June 1964. The entire mall was enclosed in 1966.

Circuit City came in the early 1990s, replacing a Silo electronics store that was formerly in this space.[6]

Montgomery Ward closed its four-story store in 2001 as the chain declared bankruptcy. Shortly afterward, Village of Evergreen Park officials submitted proposals for Target Corporation to open in the former Wards; however, these deals fell through.[7] Discount chain National Wholesale Liquidators opened in 2005, occupying two levels of the four-level anchor slot once occupied by Montgomery Ward. Walgreens closed in 2005, and was replaced with an Office Depot. Also, Circuit City closed in mid-2005 as well.

The movie theater, which had been converted to a triplex in 1977 and quadplex in 1983, closed in 1999. Office Depot closed its Evergreen Park location in 2008 along with many other small retail shops over the last few years. Following 2008, the Mall began to gradually diminish as patronage numbers decreased more and more, leading to the chronic closure of many of its original stores. Many businesses that opened in the Plaza in more recent years had shorter longevity. Planet Fitness signed a 10 year lease to reside in the plaza in 2011 and began operation in January 2012.

On May 31, 2013, the Plaza closed its doors at 8:00PM, after nearly 61 years of operation. The Plaza is scheduled for demolition in July 2013 and is to be replaced by an outdoor shopping center (which the Plaza once was during its first 14 years). Carson Pirie Scott and Planet Fitness are the only two contiguous stores that remain open and will continue business as separate buildings. Applebee's and Enterprise Rent-A-Car which are located in separate buildings from the main mall also remain open.[8]


Evergreen Theater[edit]

On June 26, 1964, Evergreen Theater was added in a separate building, located on the south end of the mall. It first opened with two screens and sat upon the parking lot by 98th street and Western Ave., later, two more screens were added. In 1973, the manager was shot and killed during a robbery, many other incidents occurred which lead to its closure in July 1999. In 2003 the venue was torn down, along with the parking garage, on the west corner of the mall for landscaped parking, and parking entrances were widened. That same year, an Applebee's opened on an outparcel.

References[edit]

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