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|Location||Waukegan, Illinois, USA|
(demolished February 2004)
|Developer||Sidney H. Morris & Associates, Gruen Associates|
|No. of stores and services||about 100|
|No. of anchor tenants||3|
|Total retail floor area||1,100,000 sq ft (100,000 m2).|
|No. of floors||2|
Lakehurst Mall was the first regional shopping complex in the northern Chicago suburb of Waukegan. The mall officially opened in 1971. It was built to service the growing town of Waukegan, the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, and the northern suburban sprawl of Chicago. After several years of decline, Lakehurst closed in 2001, and was demolished in 2004.
In December 1968, 200 acres (0.81 km2) of farmland close to the busy Tri-State Tollway was purchased from Thomas E. Wilson/Edellyn Farms for $2 million, and annexed into Waukegan, Illinois. Construction on the mall began about one year later, in September 1969. A five-year research project of Lake County had concluded that Lake County would be one of the fastest developing areas of the Midwest. The mixed-use (commercial/office/residential) development including Lakehurst Mall was built to service this new population.
The mall was designed by Sidney H. Morris and Associates of Chicago and Gruen Associates of Los Angeles; Gruen was a well-known name in mall construction, dating from their pioneering 1956 design of Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota. Initially, Arthur Rubloff & Co. of Chicago was the management and leasing agent for Lakehurst.
The new 1.1 million square feet (102,000 m²) mall was substantially larger than other malls in the area. There were three major department stores and about 100 smaller stores. A convenience center, which included the Chicago-native grocery store Jewel-Osco, was added to the original plan, as were over 6,000 parking spaces.
The mall officially opened on August 19, 1971. Over 5,000 people attended the opening day ceremonies, including the mayor of Waukegan.
Outparcels of the mall site were developed into the General Cinema Lakehurst 12 movie theatre (which opened in 1974) and restaurants such as Red Lobster. An apartment complex with over 200 rental units was completed by the mid-1970s.
Jacobs, Visconsi, and Jacobs, of Cleveland, Ohio bought the general areas of the mall and the convenience center from Arthur Rubloff in October 1982. (The anchor properties were owned by their respective department stores.)
The J. C. Penney Auto Shop closed in 1983 as part of a national decision by JC Penney to leave the auto repair business. The Globe Company, a local Lake County company, founded in 1898, went bankrupt and closed in 1985.
In August 1986, the Wieboldt's anchor went out of business, prior to the eventual closure of the entire chain. Wieboldt's management blamed the closure on the extensive distance between this store and their Chicago distribution hub, which incurred substantial expenses. The company sold their location to the Jacobs Group. The location being vacant came as a blessing when 1986 brought floods to Gurnee, Illinois, severely damaging two of the city's three elementary schools. Students in kindergarten through fourth grade were housed in the sole undamaged elementary school, while more than 600 fifth through eighth grade students were housed in the old Wieboldt's space. The space was informally known as "Wieboldt U" during that time, and the former store's shelving units were used for school storage.
After the school was renovated and the "Wieboldt U" students left, Dunham's Sports became an anchor on the lower level; several months later, Montgomery Ward moved into the upper level and built a new auto service center on an outparcel. The Montgomery Ward store had previously been located in the Belvidere Mall a few miles down Route 120. With the major anchor at Belvidere Mall gone, most thought that Belvidere Mall would close soon. It turned out that Lakehurst would close before Belvidere.
On August 8, 1991, Gurnee Mills opened seven miles (11 km) away from Lakehurst. The newer, larger Gurnee Mills proved a much larger draw than expected, devastating Lakehurst's retail base.
The mall had 100 tenants at the beginning of the 1990s, but by 1997, about fifty businesses remained. In early 1998, both Montgomery Ward and JCPenney pulled out of Lakehurst, leaving Carson Pirie Scott as the sole anchor. The Jacobs Group sold Lakehurst in the summer of 1998; the price was $30 million, a little less than that of the sale price in 1982.
Fewer than five tenants remained by 2000. These included the Gift Tree and Barbary Coast stores in the mall, as well as the Carson Pirie Scott anchor. When the leases on the two mall stores ended on January 31, 2001, most of the mall was shuttered, and only Carson's was in operation. During the mall's final days, a portion of the film "'77" was filmed inside the former KB Toys building.
Ownership changed from the Jacobs Group to the Shaw Company of Oak Brook, Illinois. A phased demolition began near the JCPenney store in November 2003. Carson's stayed open for the Christmas season and closed on January 15, 2004. Demolition of the JCPenney section was completed February 2004, followed by the Wieboldt's/Montgomery Ward section, then the Carson's section, and ended with the gazebo of the Wieboldts anchor, which had outlasted the anchor.
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