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Randhurst Shopping Center reaches the end
By Sue Ter Maat | Daily Herald Staff

The mall at Randhurst Shopping Center in Mount Prospect was a ghost town on its last day Tuesday.


George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

John Sauer, of Arlington Heights, with his son Johnathon, 16, takes one last picture Tuesday of the mall at Randhurst Shopping Center. Anchor and outlying stores will remain open.


George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

Syed Ahmed, owner of Your Choice Gifts, one of the last two merchants to leave the mall at Randhurst, hauls out the last of the merchandise he was selling Tuesday.


George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/30/2008 5:55 PM | Updated: 9/30/2008 4:59 PM

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Randhurst Shopping Center's main mall looked almost like a ghost town Tuesday as about a half dozen people shuffled through the area that once housed more than 80 stores, but by then, held only two.

While the big retailers like Carson Pirie Scott, Bed Bath and Beyond and the mall's outlot stores, like Borders and Home Depot, will remain open for business as usual, the smaller stores inside the main mall have closed. Retailers have been vacating the mall in droves in the last few months, as plans to redevelop the mall advanced.

Only Fashion Plus and Your Choice Gifts stuck it out to the end.

Razia and Syed Ahmed of Niles, who own Your Choice Gifts, were busily putting trinkets into boxes to be carted off. The pair said they had been told by mall management they had until 9 p.m. to get their merchandise out of the mall. The family-owned business had been at the mall since 2005 after moving there from the Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles in order to get a larger space. Now, the family is unsure where they will open up next, Syed Ahmed said.

Nearby, Sabita and Anil Oberoi of Des Plaines, owners of Fashion Plus, were going through the same process of packing up boxes of clothes. The couple also said they had until 9 p.m. to get packed. The family's business had come to the mall from Chicago about three years ago.

Like the Ahmeds, the family-run business has not found a new place to go, but the couple is hopeful they can open again shortly after the first of the year. Until then, all the family's merchandise will be going into storage.

"This is not the time to go anywhere because the malls are filled for Christmas," Anil Oberoi said. "We'll start looking in January."

Next week, the main mall area will be blocked off so no one will be able to enter it, said Jim Conroy, director of development for Casto Lifestyle Properties, which owns the mall.

Preliminary internal demolition will begin later this year, but major outdoor deconstruction will start after the holidays, so patrons of the major retailers will not be bothered during the heavy retail Christmas season, he said.

Casto, which owns the mall with JP Morgan Chase, wants to reinvent the mall to be similar to the The Glen Town Center in Glenview. That open-air mall is part of a 1,100-acre site for retail, offices and homes built on a former naval air station.

Casto plans to gut the main mall, which is in the shape of an equilateral triangle, keeping the major tenants that are attached to it and are on the perimeter roads. The redevelopment plan calls for a number of restaurants, a hotel and 25 smaller buildings to be scattered around the site. The AMC Theatres would be relocated. The plan allows for rental dwelling units to be built some time in the future if the developer chooses.

If all goes as planned, the center would open in the spring 2010. The $150 million project will be helped along by $25 million from the village. The money comes from projected revenue generated by sales, business, hotel and entertainment taxes under a 20-year agreement. The proposed deal ensures the village would continue to receive its annual $3.5 million in sales tax revenue from Randhurst, but it would split the sales taxes above that amount between the village and developer. That split is projected to add $1 million annually to village coffers.