YORKTOWN CENTER
East Butterfield Road and South Highland Avenue
Village of Lombard, Illinois

The year 1968 brought two massive mega malls onto the American retail scene. In March, Denver's CINDERELLA CITY was dedicated. Later in the year, Chicagoland's YORKTOWN CENTER opened its doors.

Both malls encompassed an astounding 1.3 million leasable square feet; each sported four anchor department stores. They surpassed what had been the nation's largest interior mall, the Bay Area's SUNVALLEY CENTER.

In June 1968, an enclosing renovation was completed at Long Island, New York's ROOSEVELT FIELD, making it the nation's largest interior mall. CINDERELLA CITY and YORKTOWN now held the number 2 and 3 positions.

YORKTOWN CENTER was designed by Los Angeles-based Victor Gruen Associates and Sidney H. Morris & Associates of New York City. It was developed by a joint venture of Lombard-based Long / Pehrson Associates and Boston-based Theodore W. Berenson & Associates. The shopping center was situated on a 120 acre tract located 22 miles west of "The Loop".

A 3-level (203,100 square foot), Chicago-based Wieboldt's became one of the first operational YORKTOWN CENTER stores, on August 15, 1968. The mall's official grand opening was held October 10th.

The bi-level shopping venue was anchored by Wieboldt's, as well as a 3-level (219,000 square foot), Chicago-based Carson Pirie Scott, 2-level (240,000 square foot) Montgomery Ward and 2-level (230,800 square foot) J.C. Penney.

Charter inline stores included Chas A. Steven's ladies' wear, Fannie May Candies, Kinney Shoes, Jarman Shoes, Florsheim Shoes, Madigan's men's & ladies' wear, a Merle Norman Cosmetic Studio and 2-level F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10.

In the mall's periphery was a twenty-seven-store CONVENIENCE CENTER, which included a Grand Union supermarket. Other outparcel structures were J.C. Penney and Ward's Auto Centers and two fast food restaurants.

The General Cinema Corporation Yorktown Cinema I & II opened July 3, 1970. This freestanding theatrical venue was expanded into the Yorktown Cinema I-II-II-IV in August 1976 and into a 6-plex in the late 1980s. It was demolished in 1997 and replaced with the General Cinema Corporation Yorktown Cinema 18 megaplex, which showed its first features April 3, 1998.

The preeminent retail rival of YORKTOWN was OAKBROOK CENTER (1962) {2.8 miles east, in Oak Brook}. WOODFIELD MALL {14 miles north, in Schaumburg} opened in 1971. This complex completed an expansion in 1973, which increased its GLA to 1.6 million square feet. It demoted YORKTOWN to the position of second-largest mall in Chicagoland.

Anchor store rebrandings at YORKTOWN commenced after the July 1987 demise of Wieboldt's. Its store sat vacant for 7 years before Davenport, Iowa-based Von Maur renovated it into a flagship location. This was dedicated July 18, 1994. Montgomery Ward closed in March 2001, with its vacant building being demolished in late 2004.

The first renovation of YORKTOWN CENTER had been done in the mid-1980s, when the interior was given a face lift. A second remodeling was done in 1994. The 12-bay Plaza Food Court was built in space vacated by Madigan's in September 1992.

Plaza Food Court tenants included Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Chicago Hot Dog, Cinnebon, Panda Express and Sbarro. A subsequent remodeling in the early 2000s replaced staircases in Center Court with new escalators.

A fourth renewal of the mall began in early 2005. The demolished Ward's was replaced by the 230,000 square foot SHOPS ON BUTTERFIELD. This enclosed and open-air lifestyle addition was officially dedicated in June 2007 and included twenty-three tenants.

Among these were Belly Couture, The Denim Loft, Burr Ridge Eyewear, Mirobelli Shoes, a (32,500 square foot) Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley and (33,200 square foot) Forever 21.

On the periphery of SHOPS ON BUTTERFIELD were Claim Jumper, Capital Grille, Buca di Beppo and Rock Bottom Brewery restaurants. Now comprising 1,479,500 leasable square feet, the mall housed over one hundred and fifty inline stores.

In April 2012, YORKTOWN CENTER was acquired by a joint venture of New York City-based KKR (Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Company) and El Segundo, California's Pacific Retail Capital Partners.

In April 2013, work commenced on an 18 million dollar remodeling. During the project, the existing food court was given an upgrade, with expanded seating, wi-fi stations and a Family Lounge. The culinary complex was renamed The Eatery.

Moreover, Center Court was refurbished, with new seating, lighting and fountains, the main mall entrance was rebuilt and new signage installed throughout the complex. The project was completed in June 2014.

Sources:

The Chicago Tribune
www.cinematreasures.org
Comment post by Randy
http://www.yorktowncenter.com
The Daily Herald
http://pacificretail.com (Pacific Retail Capital Partners)