Rich's Commentary

Posted April 1, 2006 (user submitted)

Lincoln Mall is a two-level mall situated at the corner of US-30 and Cicero Avenue. It was opened circa 1973 and originally consisted of four anchor stores: Carson Pirie Scott (west end), JC Penney (north end), Montgomery Ward (east end), and Sears (south end). When I first visited this complex in the early 1990's, it was your typical bustling regional mall.

Now fast forward over a decade. JC Penney closed shop in 2000 as a part of the chain's cutbacks that year. The next year, Ward's had declared bankruptcy for the last time, and they also exited shortly after. Today, Lincoln Mall has Sears and Carson's as its only remaining anchors. A walk inside the mall reveals that a mass exodus has already taken place with many of the prior national retailer tenants. For instance, the old Walden Books location now houses a Bargain Books, and the old Sam Goody is now a hip-hop clothing store. In both of those cases, neither store's prior decor was changed. In fact, there appears to be several hip-hop clothiers, among a fair selection of independent retailers. There is a tremendous amount of vacancy within the mall. The mall now has a declining, urban feel to it.

The decline may be due to several reasons, beyond the obvious choice of retailers and their financial woes. One big deficiency lies in the fact that a food court was never constructed. However, I think that the mall's problems are more than likely indicative of the area itself. The far southern suburbs of Chicago were never really a hotbed for development. While the basic roadway infrastructure was constructed over 30-40 years ago, much of the area is either in decline, or it was never filled in to begin with. Lincoln Mall still has some overflow parking lots which are positioned to the outside of its ring road, but these are falling apart and are slowly disappearing into the landscape. Beyond the mall boundary is a great deal of undeveloped land.

Lincoln Mall continues to function to this day, but it is questionable as to how long.

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