HILLSIDE CENTER
Harrison Street and Wolf Road
Village of Hillside, Illinois

Chicagoland's fourth shopping mall was built on a 63 acre site, lying 15 miles west of The Loop, in suburban Hillside. Ground was broken for HILLSIDE CENTER in April 1955. The 428,000 square foot, open-air complex was designed by Bruce A. Gordon and developed by Hubert E. Howard and Chicago-based Carson Pirie ["peer-ee"] Scott & Company.

A 1-level (72,000 square foot) Chicago-based Goldblatt Brothers opened for business September 26, 1956. The mall, and an initial twenty-one stores, were officially dedicated September 30. The center's 3-level (125,000 square foot) Carson Pirie Scott opened for business October 22, 1956 and was the largest location in the 5-store chain.

By late 1958, fifty-eight stores and services were in operation. These included Bond Clothes, Fabric Fair, G.R. Kinney Shoes, Thom McAn Shoes, Karroll's men's wear, Slenderella Figure Salon, Burny Brothers Bakery, Hillside Center Barber Shop, Western Auto and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. An outpacel structure in the northwest parking area housed Kroger and Kuehmann's (later Strickland's) supermarkets.

The Brotman & Sherman Theatres Hillside Theatre was built on a pad across Harrison Street from the mall. The single-screen venue showed its first feature on July 13, 1962. The house was split into two, and then three, auditoria before being shuttered in late 2000.

Meanwhile, a renovation of the mall was completed in April 1967. Goldblatt's was expanded by 30,000 square feet and the mall concourse and entryways were enclosed and climate-controlled. The complex now incorporated 471,000 leasable square feet and housed stores such as Fannie May Candies, Allied Radio, Parklane Hosiery, Lyon & Healy Music and the Household Finance Corporation.

Unfortunately, the proliferation of newer and larger shopping malls in the region put the hurt on HILLSIDE. The first competitor, OAKBROOK CENTER {2.8 miles southwest, in Oak Brook} had opened in 1962.

This was followed by YORKTOWN CENTER (1968) {5.7 miles southwest, in Lombard}, NORTH RIVERSIDE PARK MALL (1976) {4.6 miles southeast, in North Riverside} and -finally- THE BRICKYARD (1979) {6.7 miles northeast, in Chicago}.

A face lift, given to HILLSIDE CENTER in 1976, helped to keep the complex current for a time, but did not stave off its eventual decline. By the early 1980s, the shopping center was in dire straits. A third remodeling was completed in November 1983, which included the installation of a small Food Court area. In addition, the official name of the complex morphed into HILLSIDE MALL.

Around this time, Goldblatt's closed and was replaced by Framingham, Massachusetts-based Zayre. This store was rebranded, as a Rocky Hill, Connecticut-based Ames, in October 1989. It closed for good in 1990.

The mall's downward spiral continued into the 1990s. Its owners decided to remarket it as a value-oriented shopping center, changing its name to WEST POINT CENTER in February 1992. Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based Menards opened a home improvement store in the vacated Goldblatt's / Zayre / Ames space in mid-1992.

Unfortunately, the remarketing of the mall was unsuccessful. With the shuttering of Carson's in 1997, the end was at hand. A demalling plan was worked out by the Village of Hillside and Richmond, Virginia-based CarMax.

The Village of Hillside demolished Carson's, along with the remainder of the mall proper. The old supermarket building -and Goldblatt's / Menard's- were left standing. 20 acres of the former mall site were used for a new CarMax Superstore. Aided by a Tax Increment Financing arrangement with the Village of Hillside, the used car retailer opened its doors in 1999.

In the year 2010, WEST POINT CENTER housed thirteen store spaces. In addition to CarMax and Menards, there were Harlem Furniture, Allstate Insurance, Ideal Home Mortgage, Hillside Currency Exchange and an outparcel CIB Bank.

The shuttering of Menard's, in 2012, caused the owners of the property to place a 13 acre section -not including CarMax- on the open market. A reuse of the property, as a senior housing project, was envisaged. 

Sources:

http://www.hillside-il.org
preservenet.cornell.edu/publications/Longstreth Branch Store.doc
www.cinematreasures.org
"Changing Faces In Reinventing Communities" / Metropolitan Planning Commission/ March 2000
http://www.loopnet.com
Cook County, Illinois tax assessor website