‘A renaissance:' Golf Mill Mall to see massive, $450M redevelopment with luxury apartments, stores and more

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

Golf Mill Town Center Mall, in Niles, is the latest suburban Chicago mall to ramp up major redevelopment efforts.

Earlier this week, 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 decades-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 a 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, part of a public-private venture between the village, OKW Architects and mall owner Sterling Organization, 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.

The project -- expected to cost $450 million -- will be partially funded through Tax Increment Financing incentives, Alpogianis said, stressing that property taxes for residents were not expected to go up.

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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