by Dan Rafter
Stratford Square Mall in the Chicago suburb of Bloomingdale is an unusual place. The mall is still busy. And most of its retail space is filled. But it still needs a little something extra to become a truly successful retail space.
Much of the problem lies with the tenant mix here. Simply put, many of the tenants aren’t exactly higher-end, and they don’t attract the wealthier shoppers that the mall’s owners would like. There’s a vapor lounge, for instance, that sells electronic cigarettes. There’s a toy store stocked exclusively, it seems, with odd-looking knock-off toys. You might find a toy that looks exactly like a Power Ranger, only the helmet, color and name are slightly off.
Still, the raw materials for a higher-end, bustling regional mall are here. Stratford Square does have solid anchors with Macy’s, Sears, Kohl’s and Carson’s. It has a 16-screen movie theater and plenty of activities for kids, including its own carousel.
And in the fall of this year, a Round One Bowling & Amusement center — a popular addition to many malls — will open here.
So it’s little surprise that Northbrook, Ill.-based StreetMac LLC and an affiliate of Five Mile Capital Partners on Sept. 15 officially announced plans to redevelop the 1.3-million-square-foot mall to give it a boost, and to hopefully attract bigger-name tenants.
During the redevelopment, StreetMac hopes to bring in two or more new junior-anchor tenants. The company also plans to add sit-down restaurants, outdoor cafes and a streetscape retail center to the mall’s huge, and visually unappealing, parking-lot area.
StreetMac will also revamp the mall’s exterior entrances and add new signage.
“Our goal is to return Stratford Square back to its regional prominence when it was built more than 30 years ago,” said StreetMac’s Maury Fisher, who was the former president of JMB Urban, which developed the mall in 1981.
Round One will open its 40,000-square-foot entertainment complex in October. This will provide an immediate boost to Stratford Square. The Round One facility includes bowling, billiards, gaming and karaoke.
The redevelopment will also bring fire pits, new seating and improved landscaping to the mall’s outdoor areas.
David Jackson, president and chief executive officer of StreetMac, said that there is no reason why Stratford Square can’t thrive. The Bloomingdale area, after all, features particularly strong demographics, the kind of shoppers who still like to spend afternoons at the local mall.
“We believe Stratford Square has extraordinary upside potential,” Jackson said.