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CASTO To Remake Randhurst Mall
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Article from the Chicago Tribune
Chicago, Illinois — Randhurst Shopping Center, one of the country's first enclosed malls, is being torn down and remade into a Main Street-style shopping center. Casto Lifestyle Properties, the Ohio real estate firm that bought a 50 percent stake in the Mt. Prospect mall earlier this year, plans to demolish the interior and add up to 100,000 square feet of retail, a 110-room hotel, 200 apartment units and an 18-screen movie complex. The center will be renamed Randhurst Village. James Conroy, Casto's new director of development for the project, recalls riding his bike as a youngster to the mall from his Arlington Heights home. Over the years he has watched the shopping center decline and now is "eager ... to restore the mall." "Right now the mall just doesn't have that draw, so you have to reinvent it and not in a piecemeal, Band-Aid approach. You've got to come up with a new concept. I think it will be a quantum leap into the future for it," Conroy said Carson Pirie Scott, the department store operator, formed a company to build the mall in 1962. Carsons, now owned by Bon-Ton Stores Inc., is the only original anchor store left at the mall. The other two original department stores -- Wieboldt Stores Inc. and Montgomery Ward & Co. (whose store concept was then known as The Fair) -- folded. J.C. Penney Co., a later addition, closed in 2001. In their place stand big-box stores, including Home Depot, Costco, Steve & Barry's and Bed, Bath & Beyond. In its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, the northwest suburban mall drew crowds from hours away to shop under its massive, bubble-like skylight. It was one of the first shopping centers to have air conditioning, and it made history for building a basement bomb shelter. The sprawling basement, which has been used for storage and deliveries in recent years, will be turned into a residential parking garage. Randhurst fell on hard times when bigger regional malls such as Woodfield Shopping Center in Schaumburg and, more recently, outdoor lifestyle centers captured shoppers' attention. The mall went through a string of owners. Now it's jointly owned by Casto and JPMorgan Asset Management. The Chicago area is new territory for Casto; most of its retail centers are in Ohio, Florida and North Carolina. Construction is slated to start in the summer and be completed in 2010. The big-box stores and Carsons will remain open during the redevelopment. FINI FOR PIANO MUSIC: Nordstrom Inc. has decided to end the live piano music at its Chicago-area stores, not because of concern for saving money but to meet the tastes of contemporary shoppers. Instead the Seattle-based retailer will pipe in music. The grand piano has been a long-standing hallmark at the upscale specialty store, allowing weary shoppers -- usually men waiting for their wives and girlfriends -- to pass the time in comfy chairs. Piano music has been slowly disappearing from Nordstrom stores nationwide during the past seven years, spokesman Michael Boyd said. Today only 68 of Nordstrom's 101 stores have live piano music. The decisions to eliminate the music are made by regional managers, based on the tastes of local markets. "The pianos have gone over well," Boyd said, "but we continue to evolve the customer experience to keep relevant and current."

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