Bringing new life to a key Chicago mall

June 27, 2013  |  Dan Rafter  |  Print Article  |  Email this Article


These haven’t been the best of times for indoor shopping malls. The country’s economic downturn has hit these retail centers especially hard. As a result? Communities across the Midwest have scrambled to find new uses for dead or dying malls.

But in Chicago, an effort is now underway to rejuvenate one of the largest indoor malls in the area.

iStar Financial Inc., the new ownership group of Chicago’s Ford City Mall, is ready to launch a significant renovation of the mall, located on the city’s south side. It’s an important project because the mall is the largest enclosed one in Chicago that isn’t located in the city’s downtown.

“We know there is a strong need for a full-service retail mall in this area of Chicago, and a pent-up demand from the community,” said Cynthia Tucker, senior vice president of iStar Financial Inc., in a written statement.

Renovation will begin in 2014. iStar plans to renovate the mall’s facade, update its interior lighting and boost its landscaping.

Helping will be U.S. Equities Realty, which will manage the mall, and SRS Real Estate Partners, which will tackle retail leasing.

The goal? According to Katherine Scott, executive vice president with U.S. Equities Realty, the work should make Ford City a more desirable shopping destination for families in Chicago’s South and Southwest sides.

“We want to make sure it’s an attractive shopping destination for families in the surrounding area,” Scott said in a written statement.

Part of this involves attracting a stronger class of retailer to the mall. SRS’ leasing team hopes to bring more women’s and children’s apparel retailers to the mall. The team is also working to attract fine jewelry stores and work-apparel retailers.

Ford City Mall will also host a larger number of community events, according to SRS. As an example, the mall recently hosted a jobs fair that attracted a large number of attendees and provided the center with positive public relations.

Ford City Mall opened in 1965, and was one of the first multi-use shopping centers in the area. The alderman serving the mall’s district says that she sees a bright future for this mall.

“This new ownership, management and leasing team really knows the value of Ford City to the community,” Ald. Lona Lane said in a written statement. “I like the direction they’re going.”

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