WOODFIELD MALL
East Golf and North Meacham Roads
Village of Schaumburg, Illinois

Construction began on Chicagoland's nineteenth shopping mall in July 1969. Designed by Charles Luckman Associates of New York City and Los Angeles, WOODFIELD MALL was developed by a joint venture of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based Taubman Centers, Chicago-based Homart Development (a Sears subsidiary) and Marshall Field & Company.

The super-sized shopping facility was built on a 191 acre plot, located 24 miles northwest of The Loop, in suburban Schaumburg. The site was adjacent to the Interstate 90 / Northwest Tollway and a newly-opened section of Interstate 290.

Anchoring the original WOODFIELD MALL were a 2-level (373,000 square foot) Sears. It opened August 4, 1971, as the largest store in the chain. Marshall Field's 3-level (330,000 square foot) retail establishment began business September 8, 1971, as the chain's third-largest suburban store. The third anchor, a 2-level (299,800 square foot) J.C. Penney, opened October 6, 1971. It was Penney's largest location.

The official grand opening of twenty-eight inline stores was held September 9, 1971 and was officiated by Vincent Price and singer Carole Lawrence. Music was provided by the Conant High School Marching Band.

By the end of September, there were fifty-six stores in operation, including Lerner Shops, Casual Corner, The Limited, Stride-Rite Shoes, Gingiss Formalwear and Waldenbooks. At year's end, WOODFIELD MALL housed one hundred and thirty-eight stores and services.

Retail rivalry was aplenty in overmalled Chicagoland. However, as WOODFIELD became established as the region's preeminent shopping center, it easily staved off any commercial competition.

RANDHURST CENTER (1962) {5.4 miles northeast, in Mount Prospect} ended up being bested by WOODFIELD. OLD ORCHARD CENTER (1956) {14.4 miles northeast, in Skokie} held its own, as did OAKBROOK CENTER (1962) {13.8 miles southeast, in Oak Brook}, and YORKTOWN CENTER {14 miles south, in Lombard}.

In 1973, a Southwest Wing addition was completed at WOODFIELD MALL. It added fifty stores to the tenant list. Anchoring the expansion was a 2-level (118,200 square foot) Lord & Taylor, which opened its doors October 3, 1973. An Ice Arena was also installed in a basement level beneath the Grand Court. The mega mall now housed one hundred and eighty stores and services.

Four separate cinemas would operate in -or around- the complex. First was the ABC Great States Woodfield 1 & 2 Theatres, which opened, as a southeastern outparcel, July 30, 1971.  Next came the ABC Great States Woodfield 3 & 4 Theatres, another freestanding venue. It showed its first features May 25, 1979.

The ice rink beneath the mall's Center Court was rebuilt as the Plitt Theatres Woodfield Mall Theatres. This 5-plex opened for business June 21, 1985. The fourth cinematic venue in -or around- the mall replaced all of the previous movie houses. The Loews Theatres At The Streets of Woodfield 20 made its debut December 10, 1999. The freestanding complex was eventually rebranded by the AMC chain.

A second expansion of the WOODFIELD property was announced in March 1993, with construction getting underway late in the year. Twenty inline stores opened March 3, 1995, accompanied by a 3-level (215,000 square foot) Nordstrom and 2-level (124,000 square foot) Lord & Taylor (replacing the circa-1973 store).

The existing Lord & Taylor building was gutted and reconfigured as inline store spaces. These opened in late 1995. With its remodeling, WOODFIELD MALL encompassed 2,174,000 leasable square feet and contained two hundred and eighty-eight stores and services.

During the history of the mall, only one anchor store has been rebannered. Marshall Field's received a Macy's nameplate September 9, 2006. In contrast, ownership of the mall has followed a long and complicated series of transactions and acquisitions.

By 1993, Taubman Centers had entered into a joint venture with the Sacramento-based California Public Employees Retirement System (or CalPERS). By the early 2000s, Detroit's GM (General Motors) Pension Fund also had a piece of the proverbial WOODFIELD MALL pie.

In November 2012, the CalPERS entity purchased a 50 percent share owned by the GM Pension Fund. After only one month, they sold a 50 percent share to Indianapolis' Simon Property Group. Taubman Centers, who had been managing the mall, was superseded by Simon on January 1, 2013.

In January 2015, Simon embarked on a 14 million dollar interior renovation. New flooring, elevators and escalators were installed. The Grand Court, epicenter of the center, was also reconfigured. The project was completed in late 2015.

Meanwhile, Sears had downsized their store into a 333,000 square foot operation. A 2-level, 40,000 square foot section was leased as Level 257, a so-called "Pac-Man-themed" restaurant. In addition to sit-down dining, Level 257 included bowling lanes, arcade games, foosball and ping-pong tables. A grand opening was held March 2, 2015.

Sources:

The Chicago Tribune
Comment post by "Kurt"
Personal impressions of the author
http://www.shopwoodfield.com
http://www.taubman.com
www.cinematreasures.org
http://movie-theatre.org / Mike Rivest
"Woodfield Mall" article on Wikipedia
"Interstate 290" article on Wikipedia
"Largest Malls In the USA" list on Wikipedia
www.simon.com