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Former Lombard Department Store Gets New Life As Malls Continue Reinvention Process

Like many U.S. malls of its vintage, the 54-year-old Yorktown Mall in Lombard has had its share of struggles, given the rise of e-commerce followed by a crippling pandemic that had it scrambling to pay off mortgage debt last year.

Now, new plans are underway to transform a former anchor department store — Carson Pirie Scott, which enjoyed a 50-year run in the space before shuttering in 2018 — into a mixed-use project to include luxury multifamily buildings, a 3-acre park area, and new dining and retail offerings.

A rendering of the re-envisioned former Carson Pirie Scott site at Lombard's Yorktown Mall.

Retail developer Pacific Retail Capital Partners and Synergy Construction announced Tuesday they had acquired a 12-acre property, including the former Carson's store at 230 Yorktown Center, with plans to redevelop it for a new era of retail. No price has yet been recorded, per DuPage County records, though the property was last assessed at just over $2M.

"As department store buildings around the country become obsolete, communities look to companies like Synergy and Pacific Retail for the next vision for retail malls," Synergy Construction principal Phil Domenico said in a release, adding the joint venture was poised to "set forth a truly transformative mixed-use project that will become a template for other malls around the country."

Pacific Retail, which has led similar mall revamps in San Jose, California, and elsewhere, plans to begin construction in spring 2023 with an estimated completion of Phase 1 in spring 2025.

Phase 1 includes the demolition of the former Carson's building, construction of a multifamily building, creation of the park area that will be a communal outdoor space and building modifications to the shopping center that will connect to the residential units.

When it opened in 1968, Yorktown Center was the largest shopping center in the U.S. Over the past few years, however, it battled the same tides facing other malls, struggling to collect rent from tenants that abandoned stores in 2020.

The property overcame its debt issues and has been able to climb into profitability, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, citing Bloomberg data. The mall’s 2021 revenue was $17.8M, a 20% drop from 2019, though the property's net cash flow of $8.7M before debt more than covered its $3.4M in debt payments last year.

Pacific Retail, which has owned the property since 2012 in partnership with KKR & Co. and Clifton Realty Management, said it has been able to systematically rebalance the asset by renovating the mall interior, implementing targeted leasing upgrades and adding a residential community to Yorktown Center, including a portion of the center that was rezoned residential and sold off in 2018 to develop more than 500 units.

The latest development marks the next step in Pacific Retail’s vision for redefining the mall.

"We saw the closure of Carson's as a unique opportunity for further redevelopment of the property in that it offers a vast space that is prime for creative re-imagination," Pacific Retail CEO Steve Plenge said in the release. "We are in the business of transforming shopping malls. We believe we can add a vibrant mix of uses to create further densification to a site where people will want to live, shop, dine and be entertained.”