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

The eighth Chicagoland mall was constructed on 88 acres, located 22 miles northwest of The Loop, in suburban Niles. The open-air facility was built by John F. Cuneo, Senior, under the auspices of the Milwaukee-Golf Development Corporation.

Ground was broken in August 1959. The first nine stores in GOLF MILL CENTER opened for business on October 12, 1960. Included in this group was a 2-level (230,000 square foot) Sears, which divided the mall into North and South sections. Sears operated out of three buildings; the main store structure, a Garden Center and 23-bay Auto Center. There were also an optical department, Coffee House cafe and Lyric Beauty Salon.   

Stores in the North Mall included Lytton's, Walgreen Drug, Henry M. Goodman and a Hillman's supermarket. Some of the original South Mall tenants were Karroll's men's wear, Baker's Shoes, Richman Brothers men's wear, Klein Sporting Goods, Golf Mill State Bank, Margie Bridal, Lerner Shops, an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10 and National Tea ("National Stores") supermarket.

A 1-level (50,000 square foot), Evanston-based Lord's department store opened, at the south end of the complex, on October 18, 1961. With its completion, the shopping hub encompassed approximately 650,000 leasable square feet and sixty-eight stores and services.

The Golf Mill Theatre was dedicated December 29, 1961. This single-screen venue was built as a southeastern outparcel of the mall. It morphed into the Golf Mill Theatres I & II, on December 25, 1969, and 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 on July 12, 1965. This 1,500 seat, revolving theater-in-the round was a live performance venue which included the swanky 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 "Penneys" 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}.

A 40 million dollar renovation of GOLF MILL CENTER commenced in August 1984. The North Mall structure was substantially reconfigured, with its vacant Mill Run Playhouse being demolished. A strip of stores was built across from the existing blocks, creating a mall concourse. This was anchored by a 2-level (70,000 square foot), Bannockburn, Illinois-based MainStreet, which opened in November 1985.

As the remodeling progressed, the entirety of the shopping hub was enclosed and climate-controlled. A vacant Woolworth space, in the South Mall, was sectioned into inline stores and an 18-bay Food Court built on the east side of the complex. A formal mall re-dedication was held on November 19, 1986. There were now over one hundred and fifty stores and services.

The MainStreet store was rebranded as a Wisconsin-based Kohl's in March 1989. The next GOLF MILL modification added a 1-level (103,000 square foot) Target. This store held its grand opening October 11, 1998.

A second mall movie house, the Kerasotes Showplace 12, showed its first features on November 17, 2006. An 8 million dollar mall remodeling project, underway at this time, included an exterior face lift, installation of new lighting, flooring and seating areas and a refurbishment 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 was completed in late 2007. GOLF MILL CENTER now spanned 1,067,000 leasable square feet.

More recent modifications at GOLF MILL CENTER involve rebranding of the Kerasotes multiplex, as the American Multi-Cinema Showplace Niles 12 (July 2010), opening of a freestanding Gordon Food Service Marketplace (April 2011) and completion of a (26,900 square foot) Ross Dress for Less (October 2012). The mall changed hands in August 2014. The Cuneo Family, its original developers, sold the complex to Palm Beach Florida's Sterling Organization.

Sources:

The Chicago Tribune
"Niles Centennial History 1899-1999"
www.ggp.com (General Growth Properties)
http://www.labelscar.com
Cook County, Illinois tax assessor website
www.cinematreasures.org
http://www.chicagobusiness.com
"Golf Mill Shopping Center" article on Wikipedia
Malls Of America Blogspot