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Rockford Area Shopping Malls 

Historic News Articles Concerning Rockford Area Shopping Malls




Construction of Rockford Plaza Shopping center at the northeast corner of Charles St. and S. Rockford ave. is scheduled to begin in May, Donald Shanedling, president of Henry Shanedling Sons Corp., Minneapolis development firm, announced today.

A two-million-dollar department store operated by Goldblatt's, a leading Chicago department store chain, will be the major unit in the multi-million-dollar one-stop regional shopping center.

The 20-acre center will include 30 stores with 200,000 square feet of building space and will offer a full range of merchandise and services, Shanedling said.

2,000 Car Parking Lot

About 6,000 square feet of the total area will be available for a medical center. A 2,000-car parking lot will be designed to handle and anticipated 8,000 cars daily.

Shanedling said leases for stores in the center have been signed by the Walgreen drug company; The Kroger Co.; S.S. Kresge Co.; Richman Brothers men's clothing company; G.R. Kinney Co., Inc., shoe stores; Fanny-May Candy Co.; Grayson-Robinson Stores, Inc., apparel stores; Stevens ladies' ready-to-wear stores; Berland's Shoe Stores; the Cotton Shops; and Ingrassia Ace hardware stores.

Rockford Plaza Shopping center will have a 14-foot wide covered walkway which will enable shoppers to visit every store without exposure to inclement weather. Planned also is a miniature train to carry shoppers around the center. A public address system will broadcast music continuously.

Plan Spring 1956 Opening

Geared for a yearly sales volume of $25,000,000, the Rockford Plaza will open in the spring of 1956, Shandedling said. Bids for construction are to be submitted within 90 days.

Shanedling and Joel Goldblatt, president of Goldblatt Bros., Inc., who have worked together closely on the project, said they regard Rockford an ideal location for the type of one-stop shopping center that is becoming increasingly popular in metropolitan areas. They stated a survey shows some 55,000 persons living within two miles of the Rockford Plaza's proposed location and that the city's diversified industries, plus adjacent rich farmlands, ensure economic stability.

The ultra-modern Goldblatt store will cover 64,000 square feet on the first floor and lower level of the center. An additional 12,000 square feet will be reserved for future expansion of the lower level.

Continuous Display Area

The building will be air conditioned throughout and the first floor will be columnless, providing a continuous display area.

There will also be 6,000 square feet of outdoor selling space featuring garden equipment, plants, and lawn furniture. The store will carry a complete line of merchandise, including furniture and major household appliances.

Architects for the Rockford Plaza are Sidney Morris & Associates, Chicago. Most of the land was purchased from Emil Pearson, Rockford, with Tom Ross of the Rockford Mortgage company negotiating for the Shanedling real estate development firm, Whitehead Realtors of Rockford are the rental agents, Attorney William H. Barrick, Rockford, acted as legal council.

The Shanedling corporation operates and is developing 17 shopping centers coast-to-coast.

--Rockford Register-Republic, February 21, 1955


Rockford's first suburban shopping center, the Highcrest Centre, if officially open for business.

Following a grand opening celebration Tuesday and Wednesday, the modern, eight-store structure will be open daily to residents of the Highcrest and nearby-Highcrest area from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

According to Byron C. Marlowe, president of Highcrest Village, Inc., the establishment will serve residents of Highcrest Village, Edgebrook, Springcreek, Springbrook, Briercrest, and Highland areas as well a motorist in the vicinity.

Designed by Architect A. Reyner Eastman, the fan-shaped structure will have a drug store, hardware store, variety and gift shops, bakery goods, automotive products, laundry, dry cleaning and shoe repair facilities, and--at a later date--bowling lanes and professional services.

Tenant merchants include Piggly Wiggly Midwest Co., Nihan and Martin, W.A. Hornsby Co. Highcrest Hardware, Waldorf bakery, Modern Laundry and Dry Cleaning Co., and Village Gifts. The adjacent service station will be operated by the Smith Oil and Refining company.

Grand opening festivities, according to Ernst E. Smith, president of the Smith Building company which is sponsoring the center, will include entertainment, contests, refreshments, clowns and free gifts.

Ample parking space is planned for 200 cars. Later expansion to space for 550 cars is being considered.

Three roadway entrances will lead directly to the stores from Alpine, Highcrest, and Pinecrest rds.

Eastman designed the center to "blend harmoniously with the atmosphere of the surrounding residential area." Marlowe said. Classic New Orleans architecture combines red brick and grey stone with white wrought iron decorative trim.

In addition to ground floor space of 32, 425 square feet, an additional area of 16, 750 square feet has been constructed.

The store will have the largest storefront ever constructed in Rockford--335 feet wide. Special lighting is included in all shops to give a true-color rendition to all merchandise displayed.

A canopy has also been erected around the front of the center for protection from the rain.

The project was constructed by the Smith Building company, headed by Ernst E. Smith, and will be operated by the Highcrest Village, Inc., headed by Marlowe. Other Highcrest Village officers are Walter R. Shafer, Jr., vice president, and Clyde O. Lyddon, secretary-treasurer.

--Rockford Register-Republic, June 6, 1955


The new, big North Towne shopping center, with its 25 stores and 38 acres of land, is the product of an idea conceived by Charles E. Barnes, a Rockford realtor for 25 years.

Barnes had been eyeing the land at the southeast corner of N. Main st. and Riverside blvd. for many years, and when the million dollar Loves Park toll bridge became a reality he bought the land.

Barnes envisioned more than just a cluster of stores. He saw a center that would offer shoppers a chance to shop and compare.

"Shopping means a choice," Barnes said, "so to have a true shopping center you have to offer customers a choice. That's why we have stayed away from the exclusives and made it a practice to put in two of each kind of store."

About a year after Barnes had bought the land he sold half interest in the project to John Fridh and Sons, general contractors. Together they developed the center, keeping it an all-Rockford project.

General plans and design for the modern shopping area were worked out by the Youngstown Industrial Development company, a firm that has served as consultant for 35 shopping centers in the past few years.

The stores, all facing on the huge parking lot, are strung out in a line reaching from N. Main st. toward the Rockford river. Protective canopies shade the sidewalk the full length of the center.

Included in the development are two grocery supermarkets, two shoe stores, a furniture store, a liquor store, two variety stores, a gift shop, a barber shop, a millinery shop, an optometrist's office, an appliance store, a paint store, a candy shop, a dentist's office, and the district office of Krogers.

The Charles E. Barnes real estate will occupy the office at the west end of the center, and at the east end will be the new Chas. V. Weise company store.

The Weise store, scheduled for completion next Feb. 15, will offer more sales space than any other department store in the area, Barnes said. There will be 70,500 square feet of space, and four escalators are planned for customer convenience.

The shopping center itself, a marvel in glass and brick, will have 220 square feet of merchandising space. It sits on 18 acres of land, and 20 more acres adjoin for expansion space.

The W.T. Grant company signed the first lease for the center in October, 1954, and ground was broken for the project just a little more than a year ago.

--Rockford Morning Star, June 13, 1956


W.T. Grant Company plans to open a new store in Colonial Village Shopping Center at the Five Points, Alpine and Newburg Roads, next spring, barring any unexpected construction delays.

The firm will close its downtown store.

Construction has begun, but the spring opening schedule means there will be an interim after Grant's closes it downtown store before the Colonial Village unit opens for business. Grant's since 1956 has operated another store at North Towne Shopping Center.

Thomas Z. Zeug, manager of the downtown store at 207 W. State St. said: "We had hoped to be able to open the new Colonial Village unit in January to effect a replacement of our downtown store, which will close its doors Jan. 13 after 44 years of service to the community. Plans did not develop as swiftly as we hoped."

Sponsoring constructing of Colonial Village is John Fridh & Sons, Inc., contractors, with Charles E. Barnes as co-owner-developer.

Construction of two more units, a hardware store, and a restaurant, will begin at once, Barnes said. He did not name tenants of the units, which, along with the Grant store, are slated to open by March 1.

"Within the next 60 days we will expect to announce leasing of space in Colonial Village for two major department stores," Barnes, who also developed North Towne center, stated.

With construction of an A & P supermarket as the first major unit in Colonial Village, it was decided all future units--including a bank--would follow the early American styling chosen by A & P.

The first enclosed mall to be developed in any Rockford shopping center will be another feature of Colonial Village. The L-shaped mall will be 40 feet wide and 350 feet long.

--Rockford Register-Republic, October 27, 1961

Identify 4 New Shops in Center

Four of 22 shops that, along with the Charles V. Weise Co. and J.C. Penney Co., will occupy an addition to Colonial Village Shopping Center at Five Points were identified today.

Charles E. Barnes, one of the center's developers, said the shops are Mary Lester Fabrics, a branch of Glenn Manufacturing Co., Milwaukee; McCann Pharmacy, now at 1410 Point Ave.; Richman Bros. Co. of Cleveland, and Nobil Shore of Akron, Ohio.

The design for the 172,000-square-foot addition being constructed by John Fridh and Sons calls for face-to-face stores with an enclosed mall. All of the stores will be heated and air conditioned as one unit.

The addition is expected to be completely built and operating by next spring.

The "climate controlled" mall will be more than a block long and 40 feet wide--big enough to accommodate several thousand persons and permit the staging of civic events and displays.

The addition's 24 stores will raise to 32 the number of businesses in the shopping center.

The Mary Lester Fabrics store will be the second in Rockford. There is one in North Towne Shopping Center.

McCann Pharmacy will move into larger quarters later this month from its present location.

Richman Bros. Co. now has a men and boys apparel shop at 612 Hollister Ave.

Nobil Shoe, a chain of 118 stores, will open its first Rockford area outlet in the center.

Charles V. Weise Co., a department store with locations downtown on W. State Street and in (?) will occupy a one-story store with 65,000 square feet of floor space at the northwest end of the Colonial Village addition.

J.C. Penney Co. will have a one-story store with 60,000 feet of floor space at the southeast end.

The J.C. Penney Co. will close its present Broadway store, which was opened in 1927, when it moved to Colonial Village.

Identity of the other firms with leases on the mall will be made known later. A bank is being formed to occupy the entrance to the mall.

It is estimated that more than 500 families will be supported by this shopping center and that the revenue from sales taxes and general taxes to the City of Rockford alone will exceed $125,000 annually.

--Rockford Register-Republic, May 6, 1963


The new Machesney Mall shopping center, to be located on the former Machesney Airport property in North Park, will be dedicated Tuesday in a ceremony honoring Fred Machesney, the airport's founder.

The groundbreaking ceremony, scheduled for 4 p.m., will include the donation of the old airfield's light tower and beacon and course lights to the Experimental Aircraft Foundation and Air Education Museum Foundation by Machesney.

Machesney will be flown into the old airport by Nick Rezich in Rezich's 1929 Travel Aire biplane, Don Hart, former director of the Experimental Aircraft Foundation said today. A jet plane is expected to make a low pass over the field as well.

The grounds of the former airport, located in the 8600 block of N. 2nd Street, will be developed by Melvin Simon & Associates, Inc., and JCP Realty, Inc., a division of J.C. Penney Co., for use as a shopping center.

Ted Fratrik, director of corporate relations for Simon & Associates, said tomorrow's plane landing will be "absolutely the last time a plane will land at Machesney." The first plane landing occurred on June 8, 1929.

--Rockford Register-Republic, August 1, 1977


The new Machesney Park enclosed mall shopping center is underway. Earth-moving for the center began early in August, and completion is scheduled for October, 1979.

Daverman Associated Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich. is the architect and Melvin Simon and associates of Indianapolis is the developer. Pepper Construction Co., Chicago, has been named general contractor.

The center is being built on a 100-acre site, formerly the Machesney Field airport, at Route 51 and Machesney Road. The shopping complex of 542,000 square feet will include a mall of 310,000 square feet. Prange's department store of 128,000 square feet, a J.C. Penney Co. store at 104,000 square feet and parking for 2,500 cars.

--Rockford Register-Republic, September `13, 1977


From the large, 100-store enclosed Cherryvale Mall shopping center to the small, neighborhood-oriented Rural Oaks shopping center, Rockford residents can obtain a variety of goods and services.


The premier shopping center in Rockford, the enclosed Cherryvale Mall, contains nearly 100 stores, ranging from the fashionable Marshall Field & Co., to the mass merchandiser Sears Roebuck and Co., to small specialty shops that offer Oriental imports, shoes, jeans, and other merchandise.

The Mall in located at Perryville and Harrison Roads.


Colonial Village Shopping Mall, partially enclosed, offers several dozen stores, including J.C. Penney, which recently underwent remodeling and expansion. Management of the mall has also unveiled plans to locate several small, specialty shops inside what was once an A & P Store. The store is located at Alpine and Newburg Roads. Just north on Alpine Road is the new Liberty Square Shopping Center, offering several specialty shops.


Managed by the same people who manage Colonial Village, North Towne Plaza, 3600 N. Main St., is also partially enclosed. The anchor store is the Chas. V. Weise store. The shopping center also features numerous specialty shops on its various levels.


A mall which closed portions of Main Street and State Street was the hope for the future of the downtown area, city officials said when the project was started in the early 1970s.

The mainstay of downtown now is small specialty shops since D.J. Stewart, a large department store, closed it doors.


Another shopping center that boasts mainly specialty shops, Edgebrook also includes Pacemaker Food Store and an Ace Hardware store. Clothes, records, books and stereo equipment can also be purchased at Edgebrook. The center is at Highcrest and Alpine Roads.


Across the street from Edgebrook, Highcrest Centre is one of the oldest in Rockford. It boasts a Nihan-Martin Drug Store, an Eagle Food Store, and other smaller shops.


Construction is underway for the 600,000 square foot Machesney Mall to be located at 8600 N. 2nd. St. When completed, the mall will contain a J.C. Penney Store, an H.C. Prange Store, and 94 other shops. Construction is expected to be completed early next year.


Another of the oldest shopping centers in Rockford, Rockford Plaza has a Topway Food Store, a Goldblatt's Department Store, with a Goldblatt's Furniture Warehouse outlet nearby, and several other shops, including a Walgreen's Drug Store, a toy shop, and an organ and piano store. Located on Charles St.


An area of the city near downtown that is undergoing revitalization, 7th Street offers variety of small shops, restaurants, and offices. Plans also include an enclosed shopping mall to be built in the future.


Currently undergoing remodeling, Meadowmart Shopping Mall on North 2nd St. in Loves Park includes, besides a variety of small shops, a Union Hall Store, a local discount merchandiser. The shopping center was recently purchased by the Union Hall people who promise much renovation.


Rockford also offers a variety of other neighborhood shopping centers that range in size from two or three stores to nearly a dozen. Included would be Rural Oaks, Rural Road and Prospect Street; Alpine Plaza, Alpine Road, Near Harrison Road; Rockton Avenue Shopping Center, 3112 N. Rockton Ave.; Southgate Shopping Center, Sandy Hollow Road and 11th Street; as well as many along East State St. and North 2nd St.

--Rockford Register-Republic, September 15, 1978


Union Hall plans to open a second Rockford area store in the Meadowmart Shopping Center, store and center officials announced Monday.

It may be salvation for the center, which over the past two years has had declining customer traffic.

Formal signing of lease papers between Union Hall representatives, Stewart and Kenneth Bagus, and john Giolitto, owner of Meadowmart, will take place at a 1:30 p.m. press conference today.

Giolitto, contacted Monday night, said he hopes the discount store will begin a revitalization of Meadowmart, which has been on a sales downswing since its anchor store, the Rockford Store, left the mall a little more than a year ago.

"We hope it's going to revitalize and rehabilitate the Meadowmart mall," he said.

"It will be the largest store in Meadowmart. It will take up practically all the vacant space."

Only about 2,300 square feet of retail will be left unused in the shopping center after the 70,000-square-foot Union Hall opens in October.

Union Hall, located at 3720 E. State St., has been looking for a location for a second store for several years.

Kenneth Bagus, vice president and general manager of Union Hall, said Monday night the company had been waiting for the right location and found in in Meadowmart.

Meadowmart "is No. 1 in Loves Park as far a location." Bagus said. "It's just lacking an anchor tenant that promotes it and draws people there. People need a reason for going to the center."

The decision also was hailed by Loves Park Mayor Joseph F. Sinkiawic at Loves Park's City Council meeting Monday night.

"We are pleased that Union Hall is coming into Loves Park, and we are looking forward to cooperating with the owner." Sinkiawic said. He said the city should realize a "good strong gain" in sale tax receipts from the new store.

Bagus said the store area will be totally redesigned and will be the same size as Union Hall's East State Street store.

He declined to disclose any other locations that had been considered for the store, but said one of those sites might house a third Union Hall in the future.

The company, owned by Elbert and Lois Bagus, and their sons, Kenneth and Stewart, hopes to have three stores operating in Rockford by the early 1980s, Bagus said.

Albert Sicotte, president of the Meadowmart Merchants Association, said retailers had heard rumors of a major store opening in the center for about a month.

Sicotte also believes Union Hall will bring more traffic into the mall.

"I think it's just going to generate more business for the shopping center than any other kind of business we could have gotten out here. "Sicotte said.

"It's going to be a tremendous asset to the Loves Park area, and particularly for Meadowmart--it's going to bring us back to our great days."

Sicotte said the loss of The Rockford Store was felt by nearly all mall merchants.

Union Hall, which is being considered a replacement anchor store, or the main shopping draw to the center, opened in Rockford in 1955.

Sicotte said the new Union Hall store, combined with the developing Machesney Mall that is being constructed in the 8600 block of North 2nd Street at the side of the Old Machesney Airport, will bring more shoppers to North 2nd Street.

"Machesney won't be a threat." Sicotte said. "It will be an asset to draw more people through the area."

--Rockford Morning Star, March 7, 1978



Machesney Park Mall, 8750 N. 2nd. St., will open its doors to shoppers in the middle of next month, although not all store space has been leased, a company spokesman said Monday.

Michael Sullivan, promotion director for the mall, said the developers are expecting a "soft opening" in the middle of October. About 40 percent of the retail space is leased and he expects those shops to open then.

Grand opening for the mall will not be held until March, because one of the mall's anchor stores--the J.C. Penney Co.--is not to be completed until January. The grand opening will be held two months later, in the hope that better weather than what can be expected in January will bring in more shoppers.

The mall's other anchor--H.C. Prange Co.--is complete and is the only store, along with its companion store Prange Way, that is open at the mall now.

The single-level, enclosed mall was developed by Melvin Simon and Associates, Indianapolis. Simon has developed 40 shopping malls nationwide, Sullivan said.

He said the single-level design was chosen to allow skylights to light much of the mall. In addition, he said, construction costs on a one-floor mall are cheaper than for a multilevel one.

The company chose Rockford for a mall because it ranks 19th in the country in per capita spendable income, Sullivan said. He said the company chose the north part of the city because it feels that is where much of the city's future growth will take place. In addition, he said the company is hoping to attract shoppers from the Beloit, Wis., area.

The mall is on a 131-acre site, which will eventually be developed with support businesses in buildings surrounding the main one, Sullivan said.

The mall covered 483,894 square feet. It will house 83 stores and employ 1,300 to 1,500 persons.

Plans for the mall were first revealed in 1974. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held in August 1977.

--Rockford Register Star, September 18, 1979


Today is the grand opening of the Machesney Park Mall, but the festivities began Sunday as some of the celebrities headlining the event arrived in town.

Judy Norton-Taylor, who plays the oldest daughter on "The Waltons"; Miss Illinois World Kathy Kivisto; the author of two cookbooks, "Homestyle Italian Cookbook" and "Pasta and Pizza", Mamma D; and Randi Oates, who plays a policewoman on CHiPs" appeared Sunday as part of a media kickoff for the grand opening.

The most pressing question fielded by the four seemed to be whether or not "The Waltons" would be continuing on television next fall.

Norton-Taylor said that was still being negotiated, but she felt she remain with the show as long as it lasts.

"I do have some career goals for the future, but I'm not sure whether I'm ready to break from the show yet," she said.

Oates, who modeled for seven years before breaking into acting said the switch was easy for her. "it just seemed the natural thing to do," she said. "I had put a lot of years of study into acting and it was just time to make the move." She is in her first year on the "CHiPs" series.

Kivisto, who also is a Chicago Honey Bear, will be vying for the title of Miss International in Argentina this October as Miss U.S.A. International.

These celebrities plus others including Clayton Moore, the original Lone Ranger; Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks; soccer player, Kyle Rote Jr. and Walt Disney characters, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Pluto and Goofy will be appearing today at various activities in the mall.

All the celebrities will be involved in the ribbon cutting ceremony today at 9:30 a.m. in the center court. From 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. a paper airplane fly-off featuring several celebrities and airplanes made by fifth grade classes in the Rockford area will be featured.

At various times from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., celebrities will be available for autographs. From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. the Disney characters will be available for autographs and kids can have their pictures taken with them.

Meadowlark Lemon will be shooting baskets from 2 to 3 p.m. and 4 to 4:30 p.m. in the J.C. Penney Court area.

The Lone Ranger, Moore, will be on hand from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a "Save the Mask" rally and a look alike contest in the center mall.

--Rockford Register Star, March 17, 1980


For more Rockford area shopping mall history, click on link below

Some News Concerning CherryVale Mall, 1973-1976





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