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               NORTH PARK MALL: VILLA PARK, IL

Anonymous's Commentary

User submitted October 2, 2010

North Park Mall is a small single story 340,000 square foot indoor mall that sits on the northern part of Villa Park. Not much else is known by me about when it was built, what it originally had, or what initially caused it to fall on hard times.

I happened to stumble upon this mall after getting lost while trying to find the town's train station one day. I decided to check the place out later on seeing as I had nothing better to do.

The mall appeared to be doing fine on the outside. Its anchors were Staples (closed), Villa Park Fruit & Meat Market (previously a Dominick's), HOBO (acronym for Home Owners Bargain Outlet), and 5 Star Swap Mart (a place where you can rent out a kiosk to sell your merchandise ). Another anchor where the HOBO used to be thanks to its labelscar was standing empty. I checked out the anchor stores and saw that they were doing fairly well. Looking closely at the HOBO store's former location revealed that the black paint was peeling off revealing the facade being originally colored teal green, indicating it was an Ames (upon closer inspection of the sign). Smaller stores on the outside included Pet Supplies "Plus", Discovery Clothing Company, a small section of the 5 Star Swap Mart, and a Chinese buffet. However, the real wierd stuff was discovered when I went into the mall itself.

Inside, the mall had mostly Spanish signage and it appeared to haven't been updated in years. It had a dated decorative scheme with neon lights and stainless steel veneers as well as being very dimly lit with greenish-colored lights. I looked at the directory in the mall and saw that it had not been updated in quite a while. None of the stores listed matched what currently was there. It said that at one time, there was a Kmart (where HOBO is now, and according to an old photgraph, originally was a Robert Hall Village) and a JCPenney (the empty store which was HOBO's previous location and the former Ames). The JCPenney was made into an Ames during the chain's brief return into the Chicagoland area and Kmart left due to their financial troubles at the time.

It seems like this mall has been gutted and repartitioned a number of times as the directory was far different from what the mall actually looked like. One other noticeable thing was that despite the many closed stores having gates, most weren't closed and only covered by tarps which meant you could just walk right into some of the open stores if you wanted to. Most of the back area which was originally the food court had been sealed off and converted into more of the 5 Star Swap Mart. The east atrium with the entrance into the JCPenney/Ames had a store within it that was converted into the mall's restroom. The west atrium area that would have led into the Kmart/HOBO had been closed off and converted into a dance studio (also closed and out of business). Thanks to the dated directory, I could tell what was where in 2000-ish. None of the outer stores except for the Ames/JCPenney had access into the mall. I also noticed that many of the businesses that were there at that time listed on the directory are now located in the bigger and better Yorktown Center in Lombard after adding on a huge addition sometime in 2005. Yorktown also has a JCPenney and was probably the reason why the one in this mall was closed as part of JCP's streamlining of the company in 2000.

My guess is that the shifting of the area's demographics along with the influences of primarily Yorktown Center, as well as Oak Brook Center have left this small mall to slowly become forgotten by the masses.

Links

http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-61708909.html - Daily Herald Arlington Heights article on the closing of North Park Mall's JCPenney Outlet
http://www.labelscar.com/illinois/north-park-mall - Labelscar article on North Park Mall

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