$440M Golf Mill Town Center Mall redevelopment gets green light from Village of Niles

60 years ago, Golf Mill Mall in suburban Niles was the "premiere shopping center in the United States"

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The Niles Village Board of Trustees approved a "historic" agreement during a board meeting Tuesday night to move forward on a $440 million project to redevelop the decades-old Golf Mill Town Center mall.

According to a press release, the agreement, which creates a public-private partnership with mall owner Sterling Organization, says the village of Niles will provide $96 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) incentives to the developer. The developer would then be reimbursed as the multi-phase project gets completed, the agreement said.

Niles Mayor George D. Alpogianis previously told NBC Chicago the plan would not include an increase in property taxes for residents.

“One of Mayor Alpogianis’ requirements was to ensure that there will be no tax increase for this project and no risk to the taxpayers of Niles," Village Manager Joe La Margo said in the release. "I am proud that our staff accomplished this,” La Margo said.

According to the release, the project "is expected to create new businesses and jobs, and enhance the tax base for Niles schools and the village and expand Niles' stock of luxury housing."

Earlier this month, the village held public open houses and unveiled renderings of what the project is expected to look like, which includes completely rebuilt stores, restaurants, luxury apartments --- and even a new water mill.

Officials described the redevelopment of the more than 60-year-old mall -- once anchored by department stores like Sears, Roebuck & Co. -- as a "renaissance."

“Throughout the years, Golf Mill has been known to be more than just a shopping center," Niles Mayor George D. Alpogianis said in an earlier release. "For generations, families have celebrated traditions there; people of all ages have congregated there and our businesses have thrived there. The Golf Mill Town Center redevelopment is a catalyst for a renaissance of the mall, surrounding businesses and our village."

The mall's online directory shows the center is currently home to 44 shops and restaurants, and an AMC Movie Theater. According to Alpogianis, the new plan calls for nearly "everything on site" to be knocked down, except for the mall's freestanding stores which include JCPenney, Target, Ross, Ulta and Burlington, Alpogianis said.

The redevelopment shows a bustling plan that reinvents the mall to become entirely outdoors, a hearkening back to the mall's early days before it became enclosed. It also includes a three-acre pond and a "mill wheel," which suburban residents may find familiar.

"When Golf Mill was originally built, there was an area of water and stream that ran through it, and there was a wheel that turned, like a mill," Alpogianis said. "So they want to put that back in there, for nostalgic purposes."

According to Alpogianis, the plan is intended to make the mall a place to "live, work and play," with 70% retail and entertainment and 30% luxury housing in the form of apartment buildings, along with office buildings, a pedestrian promenade, medical facilities, a park and potentially a hotel.

Alpogianis did not provide specifics on how long the two-phase project could take.

"It's a crazy market with interest rates right now," he said. "We're hoping it's going to happen very soon."

It's not the only suburban mall that recently announced big development plans, including luxury apartments to its footprint. In 2025, Skokie's Old Orchard Westfield Mall is expected to break ground on the construction 400 luxury apartments and 15,000 square feet of street-level retail set to front an outdoor park and event space.

According to Alpogianis, Golf Mill Mall was built in the early 1960s. By the early 2000s, however, the center began declining.

MORE: 2 suburban Chicago malls close their doors permanently within weeks of each other

"Once it was built, it was considered the premiere shopping center in the United States," Alpogianis said. "Anyone and everyone who you could have imagined was there, in terms of shopping."

The center also once boasted a venue called the "Mill Run Theatre," which hosted popular acts like Frank Sinatra, The Jackson 5, George Carlin and the Partridge Family "in the round."

Alpogianis said when he ran for election in 2021, he promised Niles residents that he would restore the mall "to its heyday again."

"We're about here now," Alpogianis said, noting that the plan was set to go before the village board later this month.

Golf Mill Mall is located in Niles, at the intersection of Golf and Milwaukee roads.

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