By Dave Dahl
SPRINGFIELD – 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. 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.”
Karr says this is happening in other places, too – and in some cases with residential development part of the mix.
Because of a railroad consolidation project, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is moving its main office across Springfield to – you guessed it, White Oaks Mall. And, in addition to what’s left of the food court, there’s a car dealer there for employees to check out.
Dave Dahl can be reached at [email protected]