"Strip Malls Are History" - Jeff Bezos
Jeff (Born 1/24/1964) was a baby still taking baby steps by the time I was in High School in Chicago. Out in the suburbs of Lake County, IL, farmland near the busy Tri-State Tollway, Thomas E. Wilson/Edellyn Farms purchased a chunk of land for $2M located in close proximity to the Great Lakes Naval Base in North Chicago. The Developer planned to build Lakehurst Mall which opened in 1971 before President Jimmy Carter, the man with the somber face and pin-striped suit implemented Gas Rationing in April, 1977 due to the gas embargo during the Arab-Israeli War. By then signs were posted everywhere:
SORRY DUE TO ALLOCATION
WE CAN SERVE NO MORE GASOLINE
As reported in the news a year prior the handwriting was on the wall. Whether or not readers believed in the written word as the Gospel Truth or even read the news, gas rationing did come to fruition. Unfortunately, flawed thinking by the wrong people caused a lot of hardship, stress, and economic woes.
Times were tough for young mothers like me with an infant and a toddler. We moved to Lake County and Lakehurst Mall was a blessing. I could do all my Christmas Shopping indoors without having to bundle and unbundle the kids. The mall was thriving with the giant General Cinema Lakehurst 12 movie theater, restaurants, fine department stores and near-by apartment complex. People were proud of the Mixed-Use-Development. By 1983 anchor stores such as J.C. Penney closed and had a ripple effect. By 1986 the entire chain was out of business. Then the great floods came and school children were misplaced. Crime became prevalent. School buildings were destroyed. At the vacant Lakehurst Mall local students were set up in classrooms and there was plenty of storage that served their needs until the the Mall had to be demolished.
In 1991 Gurnee Mills located by the Tri-State, across from Six Flags Great America emerged. Consumers were happy! Shortly thereafter, I moved to Texas. Today, the mall is gone.
In TX, Valley View Mall was a fun place to go. Consumers like me stopped shopping when crime made it impossible to shop in peace. The mall is now demolished and developers and city officials launched a plan for mixed use development now called Dallas Midtown. How that's going, I don't know.
As the cookie crumbles, so does infrastructure and the economy. While inevitably businesses fail others succeed. People still need to shop. Developers will continue to bulldoze and build. With shelter-in-place and engaged couples not able to have big weddings due to limitations, restrictions and social distancing, I have a feeling and wouldn't be surprised at all, that out of a fresh womb, someone bigger, better, and more bodacious will be born to greatness.
If Commercial Realtors Candice A. Donofrio or Endre Barath, Jr. would like to weigh in on Malls, Money, and Mysteries of Commercial Development, I would love to hear about it and I think the readers would too. Thank you!!!