An Iconic Illinois Shopping Mall Is Shrinking By Five Floors
For years, we've heard how Walmart and Amazon are killing the shopping mall. I'm not sure that is true. When I lived in Lubbock, their super regional South Plains Mall always seemed busy. Additionally, on a cold day last winter, I had to park in the back at Oak Park Mall in Overland Park. Yet, not all malls are thriving, like this iconic Illinois shopping mall on the Magnificent Mile in Chicago.
I'm talking about Water Tower Place. Water Tower Place, according to Wikipedia, was planned in the late 1960s, by the shopping center development division of Marshall Field & Company, Chicago's iconic department store. It was eventually built in 1975 by Urban Retail Properties.
Water Tower Place includes a 78-story tower, which is the twelfth tallest building in Chicago, and the twenty-sixth tallest building in the United States. It includes condominiums, a Ritz-Carlton hotel, and office space and sits atop a block-long base containing an atrium-style mall that fronts the Magnificent Mile.
It's the mall that's shrinking. The mall's current owner has hired brokers to sell or lease out the top five floors of the shopping center for office space or other uses that would reduce the mall to a three-story retail property according to CoStar News.
The mall was hit hard during COVID-19, and then in 2021 Macy's, which had space on portions of all eight floors, and the mezzanine closed. That's a huge change from 1975 when Water Tower Place changed the dynamics of the Magnificent Mile by bringing middle-class shops to Michigan Avenue, which had been dominated by luxury retailers, expensive hotels, and swanky apartments,
So what's next for the top five floors of retail space?
Savills office tenant broker Eric Feinberg told CoStar News that the Water Tower Place location is great for healthcare-related offices. He went on to tell Costar that space is at a premium in that area and, in years past, hospitals have purchased space when it's been available.
The owners of Water Tower Place have hired a broker to seek a sale of the top five floors of retail space, although, they are also considering leasing the space to nonretail tenants such as doctor's offices, traditional office space, or other uses according to Costar News.
From childhood on, growing up in the Chicago area shopping at Water Tower Place was part of living in the area. From spending the day Christmas shopping there with my Mom as a kid to buying my first bottles of cologne with some of the money from my first real job. When I lived in the Chicago area and went to school or worked near the Water Tower it was a big part of my life. Here's hoping, with its shrunken retail footprint, it's still a bustling part of Chicago's Magnificent Mile.
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