(WBBM NEWSRADIO) — The shopping mall — retail destination of the seventies and eighties — is entering a new chapter.
Rob Karr, president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, likes to say retail’s nimble. But what’s less nimble than a gigantic, largely empty mall?
“If you think of it as only purposed for retail, then I think you’re right,” he tells WBBM Newsradio’s Dave Dahl. “But what we are seeing is that those malls that are less of a destination or don’t have a retail concentration are repurposing themselves.
We’re seeing them become medical complexes. You want to see a group of, say, technology companies together or certain service companies together.”
In some cases, Karr said, repurposing has included residential development.
Because of a railroad consolidation project, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is moving its main office across Springfield to White Oaks Mall. In addition to what’s left of the food court, there’s a car dealer there for employees to check out.