West Golf Road and North Milwaukee Avenue
Village of Niles, Illinois

The sixth Chicagoland shopping mall was constructed on 88 acres, 22 miles northwest of The Loop, in suburban Niles. Work got underway on the venue, built by Milwaukee-Golf Development, in August 1959. The first fifty stores in the 650,000 square foot GOLF MILL CENTER were dedicated October 9, 1960.

The 14 million dollar, open-air complex was originally anchored by a 2-level (230,000 square foot) Sears. Among the seventy-five charter tenants were Lytton's, Maternity Modes, Kinney Shoes, Father & Son Shoes, Walgreen Drug, Golf Mill Barber Shop, Lamm Shoes, Richman Brothers, Lerner Shops, an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and Hillman and National Tea supermarkets. There were also an outparcel Sears Auto Center and bowling alley.

A second anchor department store, a 1-level (50,000 square foot), Evanston-based Lord's, was built on the south end of the shopping complex. It held its grand opening October 18, 1961. The single-screen Golf Mill Theatre was dedicated December 29, 1961. This '60s suave cinema was built as a southwestern outparcel of the mall. It re-opened as a twin venue, the Golf Mill Theatres I & II, December 25, 1969 and as the Golf Mill Theatres 1-2-3 in 1973. The movie house was shuttered in the year 2000.

The Mill Run Playhouse, at the north end of the mall, had been dedicated in June 1965. This 1,500 seat, revolving theater-in-the round was a live performance venue and featured the Millionaire's Club lounge.

The Lord's store had closed by 1965. J.C. Penney renovated the vacant space, expanding it into a 2-level (184,700 square foot) structure. An outparcel Penney's Auto Center was also built. The new store opened October 20, 1966.

Regional malls in the vicinity of GOLF MILL CENTER included OLD ORCHARD CENTER (1956) {4.3 miles east, in Skokie}, RANDHURST CENTER (1962) {5.2 miles northwest, in Mount Prospect}, WOODFIELD MALL (1971) {9 miles west, in Schaumburg} and NORTHBROOK COURT (1976) {6.6 miles northeast, in Northbrook}.

GOLF MILL CENTER remained an open-air structure until being enclosed and climate-controlled during a 40 million dollar renovation. As part of the project, the Mill Run Playhouse (shuttered since late 1983) was demolished. A 2-level (70,000 square foot), Bannockburn, Illinois-based MainStreet was built, which served its first patrons in November 1985. The renovation, which included the addition of an 11-bay Food Court, was completed in the fall of 1986.

In March 1989, the MainStreet store was rebranded as a Wisconsin-based Kohl's. The next modification of the shopping center added a 1-level (103,000 square foot) Target to the northwest corner. This store held its grand opening October 11, 1998.

Chicago-based General Growth Properties acquired the Maryland-based Rouse Company in 2004. With this transaction, GOLF MILL CENTER became part of its property portfolio.

A second mall movie house, the Kerasotes Showplace 12 multiplex, opened for business November 17, 2006. An 8 million dollar mall remodeling project, underway at this time, included an exterior facelift, plus the installation of new lighting, flooring, seating areas and reconfiguration of the Center Court and Main Entrance.

Moreover, a 1-level (40,400 square foot), Columbus, Ohio-based, Value City Furniture store replaced a northeast mall entrance and several adjacent store spaces. The renovation of the 1,067,000 square foot shopping center was completed in late 2007.

More recent changes at GOLF MILL CENTER involve a switch of ownership, from General Growth Properties to Milwaukee Golf Management (2009), rebranding of the Kerasotes multiplex, as the AMC Showplace Niles 12 (2010), and installation of a (26,900 square foot) Ross Dress for Less (2012). August 2014 brought a new mall proprietor, the Palm Beach-based Sterling Organization.


"Golf Mill Shopping Center" article on Wikipedia
Malls Of America Blogspot (General Growth Properties) / comment post by John Gallo
Cook County, Illinois tax assessor website
Cinema Treasures

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