Wabash Avenue / US 36 and South Veterans Parkway
City of Springfield, Illinois

The first -and only- shopping mall in Illinois' capital city was developed by a consortium of Indianapolis-based Melvin Simon & Associates (today's Simon Property Group), Springfield-based Park Realty Company and Chicago-based Arthur Rubloff.

Envisaged as WESTROADS MALL, the prospective complex was renamed WHITE OAKS MALL in honor of the Illinois State Tree. Occupying an 80 acre plot, located 3.3 miles southwest of the Illinois State House, WHITE OAKS MALL was officially dedicated August 24, 1977.

Several dignitaries, sports stars and celebrities were on hand to commemorate the mall's grand opening. Ed McMahon, co-host of NBC-TV's "Tonight Show With Johnny Carson", served as Master of Ceremonies. Appearances were made by Artis Gilmor, Bruce Jenner, Bobby Riggs and William Tedford, Mayor of Springfield. Nancy Rae Beatty, "Miss Illinois 1978", was also in attendance, as was Billy Carter, brother of President Jimmy Carter (D).

Encompassing 896,200 leasable square feet, WHITE OAKS MALL was anchored by a 2-level (117,300 square foot), Springfield-based Myers Brothers, 2-level (104,200 square foot), St. Louis-based Famous-Barr, 2-level (143,500 square foot) Montgomery Ward and 2-level (186,000 square foot) Sears.

There was also a 2-level (60,000 square foot), Springfield-based Bressmer's. Among the mall's eighty-six stores and services were Osco Drug, Topps & Trousers, Bresler's 33 Flavors Ice Cream and an MCL Cafeteria.

The General Cinema Theatres White Oaks Mall Cinema I-II-III showed its first features June 17, 1977. The in-mall venue was divided into a 5-screen house in the early 1980s. It was sold to the Kerasotes chain in 1988 and shuttered in September 2008.

The first nameplate conversion at WHITE OAKS MALL took place in 1979, when Bressmer's was rebranded by St. Louis-based Stix, Baer & Fuller. In 1983, the Myers Brothers store was rebranded by Bergner's, then based in Peoria. The WHITE OAKS Stix store would be short-lived. Its space was assumed by Wisconsin-based Kohl's in 1982.

A 14 million dollar renovation of the shopping hub began in early 1993, with the interior given an update. An 11-bay Food Court was installed on the mall's Upper Level. The space had been vacated in 1992, when Kohl's relocated into WHITE OAKS PLAZA {a strip center located across Veterans Parkway from the mall}.

Two anchor stores at WHITE OAKS MALL were also enlarged. Bergner's was expanded by 25,000 square feet, into a 129,200 square foot store. Famous-Barr's addition increased its area to 162,000 square feet, with the newly-revamped store holding its grand re-opening August 12, 1994.

The shuttering of Montgomery Ward, on March 4, 2001, created a vacancy that was not filled until July 28, 2004. Dick's Sporting Goods opened their WHITE OAKS location then, which occupied the second floor of the old Ward's space.

Later in the year, Linens 'n Things and Cost Plus World Market dedicated their stores, which occupied the first floor of the building. A second anchor rebranding at the mall was completed September 9, 2006, when Famous-Barr became a Macy's.

The Great Recession contributed to the shutterings of four stores in the mall. Linens 'n Things and Cost Plus World Market went dark in 2008. These closings were followed by those of Borders Express and FYE, which transpired in 2009.

Today, WHITE OAKS MALL is 81 percent Simon-owned. It encompasses 945,300 leasable square feet, with one hundred and ten store spaces. A multimillion dollar facel lift renovation got underway in August 2011 and was concluded in May 2012.


The State Journal-Register
Comment post by Brandon
www.simon.com (Simon Property Group)
Sangamon County, Illinois property tax assessor website