Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion, IL – From Shopping Destination to Entertainment Complex

Illinois Star Centre Mall: A Once-Thriving Shopping Destination

The Illinois Star Centre, formerly the Illinois Centre Mall, was once a bustling shopping destination in Marion, Illinois, United States. Its grand opening in 1991 marked a new era of retail therapy for the local community, boasting over 60 stores for shoppers.

Among its anchor stores were Dillard’s and Target, with Target being the most frequented by shoppers. The mall also housed a Sears anchor store, which closed its doors in April 2018.

Over the years, the Illinois Star Centre has gradually declined its occupancy rate, with several tenant stores closing.

The once vibrant atmosphere of the mall has now been replaced with a lonely silence. The decline of the Illinois Star Centre serves as a sad reminder of the changing retail landscape and the challenges stores face in an increasingly digital age.

The former mall property in Marion, Illinois, was purchased by Marion Center Project LLC in the summer of 2020, which lists Rodney Cabaness as owner and president. The purchase includes the attached 20-acre parking lot and other nearby properties, including the former Kokopelli Golf Course and clubhouse.

According to Marion Mayor Mike Absher, the mall property, now called the Oasis Mall, will be part of a retail and entertainment complex. In addition, the city has invested approximately $20 million in infrastructure around the mall property.

The new development will include multiple attractions, such as a trampoline park, skydiving, go-karts, and more. Cabaness also mentioned the possibility of a complex sporting area outside the mall and a new golfing complex.

Cabaness is excited about the upcoming developments and sees them as an opportunity for growth and opportunities for Southern Illinois. He believes that the new entertainment complex will create an atmosphere of excitement and bring families together to make memories.

The renovations are about creating an entertainment destination that will draw people to Marion and provide an influx of business to local restaurants, hotels, and other companies.

Competition and Controversy: The History of Illinois Star Centre Mall

The early 1990s were a time of fierce competition for shopping malls in southern Illinois. The University Mall in Carbondale, Illinois, had already established itself as a popular shopping destination when plans were announced to build the Illinois Centre Mall in nearby Marion.

Retail analysts predicted that the two malls would engage in cut-throat competition for regional customers.

The Illinois Centre Mall was developed by the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation and opened its doors in 1991. It boasted a lineup of anchor stores that included Dillard’s, Target, Phar-Mor, and Sears.

Illinois Centre Mall
Illinois Centre Mall” by MikeKalasnik is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Sears, which had previously been located in the University Mall, was enticed to relocate to the new mall, resulting in the closure of its former location.

The decision to use a state financing program to assist with the relocation of Sears sparked controversy, and the University Mall filed a lawsuit against the developers of the Illinois Centre Mall.

The suit was ultimately dismissed, but the controversy surrounding the relocation of Sears added to the tension between the two malls.

Despite the controversy, the Illinois Centre Mall enjoyed a successful launch, drawing in shoppers across southern Illinois.

Illinois Star Centre Mall: A Look Back at Its Rise and Fall

In July 1991, the Illinois Star Centre Mall made its grand opening with the arrival of anchor stores Sears and Phar-Mor. Dillard’s and the mall opened their doors in September, while Target followed suit in October. The mall symbolized a new era in retail therapy, boasting over 60 stores for shoppers to explore.

However, the mall struggled with occupancy for most of its history, despite attracting other businesses to the area. Even with new owners boosting occupancy to 60% by 2000, the mall continued to face challenges in maintaining its success.

Red Lobster opened in the surrounding area in July 1992, followed by an eight-screen Kerasotes movie theater next to the mall in December 1993. O’Charley’s restaurant officially opened in the parking lot in March 2002, while The Home Depot arrived later that year in November.

In September 2006, Walmart Supercenter opened outside the mall east of Dillard’s. Unfortunately, while the new arrival brought some life to the area, it was not enough to revitalize the struggling mall.

Illinois Star Centre Mall: The Rocky Road to Bankruptcy

In 2011, Sabre ISC acquired the Illinois Star Centre Mall by purchasing delinquent tax certificates. The mall, previously known as Illinois Centre Mall, had struggled with occupancy for most of its history. Despite the new ownership, the mall’s future remained uncertain as it became increasingly vacant and lacked maintenance.

In March 2015, the Southern Illinoisan reported that three of the mall’s owners were imprisoned on various counts, and leasing agents were unresponsive to inquiries about the mall. In addition, the mall’s parking lot and anchor stores were owned by different companies, further complicating its future.

Roc Enterprises, LLC later purchased the mall’s taxes from the county trustee. However, even with new ownership, the mall continued to decline. Finally, on May 4, 2017, the mall’s ownership team declared bankruptcy after previously offering the property at auction but failing to attract a buyer.

Illinois Star Centre Mall: Two Anchor Stores Remain as Others Close Their Doors

In 2018, the Illinois Star Centre Mall in Marion, Illinois, faced a series of store closures that contributed to its continued decline.

The first announcement came on January 4, 2018, when it was revealed that Sears would be closing as part of its nationwide plan to shutter 103 stores. The store ultimately closed its doors in April of that year.

Joe’s Records, a popular music store located within the mall, also announced its departure in January 2018. In addition, the GameStop store, another mall tenant, also closed its doors in April 2018.

Despite these setbacks, anchor stores Target and Dillard’s remained open. However, the mall’s future remained uncertain. On November 16, 2018, it was reported that the Illinois Star Centre Mall would cease operations within the next 30 days.

Avatar of Spencer Walsh

I'm Spencer Walsh, a professional traveler who loves to help people discover new places and learn about different cultures. I've traveled worldwide, from Europe to Asia and Africa to South America. My favorite thing about traveling is getting lost because it allows me to discover unexpected gems—finding a hidden museum or stumbling upon a beautiful park in the middle of the city.

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