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)
Evergreen Plaza, Evergreen Park, Illinois.jpg
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 until the 1980s. The Evergreen Plaza located in Evergreen Park, Illinois, (a close suburb of Chicago), was planned in the 1920s. It was legally organized by Arthur Rubloff, who is also credited with coining the phrase "Magnificent Mile" describing the upscale section of Michigan Avenue north of the Chicago River to Oak Street. Rubloff secured the funding for the Evergreen Plaza from the Walgreen family who lived nearby in Beverly, Chicago. The Evergreen Plaza operated from 1952 to 2013. It featured over 120 stores, as well as a food court.


In 1936, developer Arthur Rubloff 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.

Chas. A. Stevens added a store in 1962. A new Carson Pirie Scott was added and the mall was later enclosed in 1966. Also, The Fair Store was converted to Montgomery Ward in April, 1964. 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, moving to a newer store about a mile away, and was replaced with an Office Depot. Circuit City also closed in mid-2005.

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, leading to the chronic closure of many of the original stores. Many businesses that had opened in more recent years had shorter longevity. Planet Fitness signed a 10-year lease to reside in the Plaza in 2011 in the original Walgreens space and began operation in January 2012.

It was scheduled for demolition in July 2013, to be replaced by an outdoor shopping center (which the Plaza once was during its first 14 years). However, the building was not demolished and more proposals and rumors started floating around. Two development companies, Debartolo LLC, based in Tampa, and Lormax Stern, a developer from a Detroit suburb, came together to reach a deal to demolish the existing property to build a new outdoor mall that will feature 30-40 brand new stores. Dick's Sporting Goods and Whole Foods are two big retailers that are interested. Carson Pirie Scott is also said to be interested in this project but may open a smaller retail store. Applebee's and Planet Fitness are planning on staying. Enterprise Rent-A-Car will not be staying. Demolition is set to start at the end of May, 2015, and is expected to take all summer. Construction for the new mall will begin in the fall and should be complete around December 2015-January 2016. At the end of 2016, Carson's opened a brand new freestanding store on the back of the property.[8] The new mall, Evergreen Marketplace, is now scheduled to open in the fall of 2017

Evergreen Theater[edit]

On June 26, 1964, Evergreen Theater was added in a separate building, located on the mall's south end. It first opened with two screens and sat upon the parking lot by 98th Street and Western Ave. Later, two more screens were added. Even later, two more screens were added, bringing the total up to six. In 1973, the manager was shot and killed during a robbery; other incidents occurred which led 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.


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