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               CHARLESTOWNE MALL: ST. CHARLES, IL

Rich's Commentary

Posted May 2, 2008 (user submitted)

Charlestowne Mall opened in 1991 at the corner of IL 64 and Kirk Rd on the very eastern edge of St. Charles. It was constructed as a full two-level mall with space for five anchors, and in its prime it had over 100 active stores and many of the nationally known chains that you'd expect. Sears anchored the far west end, Carson Pirie Scott the far east end, and JC Penney on the south side. The north side was intended for two more anchors; Kohl's initially took up the easternmost slot on the north side. Several years later, a multi-theater structure was built on the westernmost slot on the north side and continues to be operated by Regal Cinemas to this very day.

Architecturally speaking, Charlestowne bears strong resemblances to other indoor malls built in the area at about the same time (One Schaumburg Place, Lincolnwood Town Center, and even Gurnee Mills come to mind). Like Lincolnwood Town Center, the food court at Charlestowne is located on the upper level on the north side, dead center. It even has a merry-go-round like its smaller brethren.

I used to visit the mall somewhat regularly during the latter half of the 1990's and into the early 2000's when I worked nearby. One blow to the mall came in 2000 when JC Penney shuttered their location here as a part of their store closings at the time. However, Von Maur took over the space within a couple years afterward, and the mall didn't seem to skip a beat. Relevant chains had been and were present at the mall for some years - ie Sam Goody, Walden Books, Victoria's Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, Hollister, etc. Simply put, Charlestowne had the breadth and selection of a good regional mall.

Fast forward to a recent Saturday afternoon in 2008, I decided to stop by some of my old haunts after a five year hiatus, only to be stunned by what now appears to be an 80-90% vacancy rate within the mall itself. While a few chains such as AE and Victoria's Secret are still there (for the time being anyway), the rest is either boarded up or gated. This time, not even independent retailers took up any of the slack from the fleeing tenants. In sum, the four department stores, the food court, and the theater structure continue to function as of 2008, but the rest of the mall itself is now appallingly empty. When you walk between the anchor stores there are mostly vast rows of empty spaces on both sides. It's quite surreal to be able to walk from Sears toward the center of the mall and not see one functioning tenant in sight. Even the water fountain in the center court is no longer in operation.

For such a large and relatively-new mall in such sad shape, I was surprised not to be able to locate any news article mentioning its decline, let alone any type of redevelopment. It remains to be seen if and/or what St. Charles or the property management intend to do with this shell of a mall.

Links

http://www.flickr.com/search/?ss=2&ct=5&w=all&q=Charlestowne+Mall&m=text - Flickr photos from user talekinker, and leeyeong of the carousel at the mall
Megan's Photos on Photobucket









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