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, Senior, Hubert E. Howard, Junior and the 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.

Carson's opened with a big celebration. Performances were given by the Scots Kiltie Band, with bagpipe music and folk dancing by six Tartan-clad lassies. The festivities were attended by Hubert E. Howard, Senior and Junior, John T. Pirie, Junior and Michael Yundt, Hillside Village President.

By late 1958, fifty-eight stores and services were in operation. These included Bond Clothes, Fabric Fair, Kinney Shoes, Thom McAn Shoes, Karroll's men's wear, Slenderella Figure Salon, Burny Brothers Bakery, Hillside Center Barber Shop and an F.W. Woolworth 5 & 10. An outpacel structure in the northwest parking area housed Kroger and 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, the mall had been sold to the Greenfield Real Estate Investment Trust in the mid-1960s. . They initiated a 600,000 dollar remodeling. Goldblatt's was expanded by 30,000 square feet and the mall concourse and entryways were enclosed and climate-controlled. A re-dedication was held on August 17, 1967.

The complex now incorporated approximately 471,000 leasable square feet. Among sixty stores and services were Fannie May Candies, Sun Drug, Parklane Hosiery, Lyon & Healy Music, Armand's Restaurant, Candies From Around The World and the Household Finance Corporation.

Unfortunately for HILLSIDE CENTER, newer and larger shopping malls began to proliferate in its trade area. 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 (1977) {6.7 miles northeast, in Chicago}.

A minor face lift was given to HILLSIDE CENTER in 1977, but this failed stave off the mall's eventual decline. It was sold to Unicorp American Corporation of Philadelphia in 1981. By this time, the center was in dire straits. A third remodeling, envisaged by the Chicago Design Group, was performed between May and November of 1983.

As part of this 3 million dollar project, Center Court ceilings were replaced. The Oasis Food Court was set up in vacant store space, beneath a newly-installed arched skylight. Eateries in the food facility included Dog Patch hot dogs, Mazzone's, B.G. Burgers and 1 Potato 2 Potato.

On the outside of the shopping venue, a grid of tubular framework topped a newly-built Main Entrance. The exterior was also covered in a light concrete finish. Lastly, the official name of the complex was changed to HILLSIDE MALL.

Goldblatt's had closed down on January 1, 1982 and been replaced by Framingham, Massachusetts-based Zayre in the following November. 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 new decade. It was purchased by Northbrook-based New Castle Partners in January 1992. They decided to remarket the struggling complex as a value-oriented shopping hub, changing its name to WEST POINT CENTER in February. 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:

The Chicago Tribune
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