Exploring the Charms of Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, IL

The Beginnings and Evolution of Westfield Old Orchard Mall

Westfield Old Orchard, initially known as Old Orchard Shopping Center, marked its grand opening in 1956.

Developed by Philip Morris Klutznick, this shopping center in Skokie, Illinois, quickly became a notable destination in the Chicago metropolitan area.

From its inception, the mall distinguished itself with a unique blend of retail offerings and an inviting atmosphere.

As of December 2023, it is a testament to over six decades of retail evolution, adapting to changing trends and consumer preferences.

Major Developments and Expansions

Throughout its history, Westfield Old Orchard has undergone significant transformations. The 1990s were particularly pivotal, witnessing a comprehensive redesign that redefined the mall’s landscape.

This era saw the introduction of high-profile stores such as Nordstrom in 1994 and Bloomingdale’s in 1995, further cementing the mall’s status as a premier shopping destination.

These expansions were not just about adding square footage; they represented a strategic move to enhance the diversity and quality of the shopping experience.

The mall’s evolution continued into the 21st century, with its rebranding to Westfield Old Orchard in 2002, reflecting its integration into the global Westfield portfolio.

Architectural and Design Innovations

One of the most striking features of Westfield Old Orchard is its open-air design, a refreshing departure from the conventional enclosed mall structure.

Inspired by Chicago Botanic Garden, this design has created an inviting and vibrant shopping environment.

The mall’s layout, interspersed with green spaces and leisure areas, offers visitors a place to shop and a destination for relaxation and socializing.

This architectural innovation has made Westfield Old Orchard a standout in the retail landscape, suggesting things to do in Chicago, Illinois, beyond just shopping.

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Westfield Old Orchard’s journey from a regional shopping center to a landmark retail destination is marked by continuous adaptation and innovation.

Its ability to evolve while maintaining a unique identity is key to its enduring appeal and success.

Anchors and Major Tenants: The Backbone of Westfield Old Orchard

Historical Anchors

Westfield Old Orchard’s journey as a retail powerhouse began with its original anchor stores: Saks Fifth Avenue, Marshall Field and Company, and The Fair Department Store, all opening in 1956.

These anchors laid the foundation for the mall’s success, drawing shoppers across Chicago. In 1964, The Fair Department Store transitioned to Montgomery Ward, marking a significant shift in the mall’s retail landscape.

Over the years, these anchors have seen changes, with Marshall Field’s converting to Macy’s in 2006 and Nordstrom joining as a key anchor in 1994, enhancing the mall’s upscale retail mix.

Evolution and Changes in Anchor Tenants

The mall’s anchor stores have undergone several transformations, reflecting the dynamic nature of the retail industry.

Saks Fifth Avenue, a founding anchor, closed its doors in 2005, followed by the closure of Montgomery Ward in 1988.

Lord & Taylor, which opened in 1978, ceased operations in 2018. These departures paved the way for new developments and a mall retail strategy shift.

The transition of Bloomingdale’s to a smaller format store, Bloomie’s, in 2022 is a recent example of how Westfield Old Orchard adapts to changing retail trends.

Role of Anchors in Mall’s Success

The anchor stores at Westfield Old Orchard have been instrumental in defining the mall’s character and drawing power.

They have provided a wide range of shopping options and helped anchor the mall’s position as a leading shopping destination in the region.

The presence of high-end stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s has attracted a diverse clientele, ensuring a steady footfall and contributing to the overall success and longevity of the mall.

Diverse Retail Experience: Specialty Stores and Boutiques

Prominent Specialty Retailers

Westfield Old Orchard is home to an array of specialty retailers that add to its charm and appeal.

Stores like Vineyard Vines, Madewell, and Anthropologie offer unique shopping experiences that cater to specific fashion tastes and lifestyles.

These stores and others like Apple Store and Lululemon have become key attractions, drawing shoppers looking for quality and exclusivity.

The Story of Famous Stores

The presence of famous stores enriches the mall’s retail landscape, each with its unique story. The Apple Store, a hub for tech enthusiasts, offers the latest technology and gadgets.

Lululemon, known for its high-quality athletic wear, has become a go-to destination for fitness enthusiasts.

With its fast-fashion offerings, Zara appeals to those seeking trendy and affordable apparel. These stores enhance the shopping experience and contribute to the mall’s reputation as a diverse and dynamic retail destination.

Impact of Retail Diversity

The diversity of Westfield Old Orchard stores is crucial to its success. By catering to various preferences and needs, the mall ensures every visitor finds something interesting.

This variety enhances the customer experience and broadens appeal, attracting diverse shoppers.

The presence of both high-end and affordable stores creates a balanced retail environment, making Westfield Old Orchard a comprehensive shopping destination.

Culinary Delights: Food and Beverage Options at Westfield Old Orchard

Diverse Dining Options

Westfield Old Orchard is not just a shopping paradise; it’s also a culinary destination. The mall offers many dining options catering to various tastes and preferences.

For instance, The Cheesecake Factory, known for its extensive menu and signature cheesecakes, has been popular since its opening.

Casual dining spots like Shake Shack, which opened in 2015, offer quick and delicious meals, perfect for a break between shopping.

For those seeking a more upscale dining experience, The Capital Grille provides an elegant atmosphere with its fine selection of steaks and wines.

Specialty Food Retailers

In addition to restaurants, Westfield Old Orchard boasts specialty food retailers that add a unique flavor to the shopping experience.

Adagio Teas offers a wide range of artisan teas, perfect for enthusiasts. On the other hand, Nespresso caters to coffee lovers with its premium coffee machines and capsules.

These specialty stores not only provide unique products but also contribute to the overall diversity of the mall’s offerings.

Role of Food and Beverage in Attracting Visitors

The food and beverage options at Westfield Old Orchard play a significant role in attracting and retaining visitors.

With a mix of fast-food joints, cafes, and fine dining restaurants, the mall ensures visitors have various choices for meals, snacks, or just a quick coffee break.

This variety not only enhances the shopping experience but also turns the mall into a dining destination in its own right, drawing visitors who come to enjoy the culinary offerings.

Entertainment and Leisure: Beyond Shopping

Entertainment Venues

Westfield Old Orchard extends beyond retail to offer entertainment options that cater to all ages. A prime example is the CMX Luxury Cinema, a state-of-the-art movie theater that provides an exceptional viewing experience.

This cinema has become a popular destination for movie-goers, offering the latest blockbusters in a luxurious setting.

Events and Community Engagement

The mall is not just a shopping center; it’s a community hub. Throughout the year, Westfield Old Orchard hosts various events that engage the local community.

These events range from outdoor concerts, which bring live music to the mall’s green spaces, to farmers markets that showcase local produce and crafts. These events provide entertainment and foster community among visitors and locals alike.

Leisure and Relaxation Spaces

In addition to shopping and dining, Westfield Old Orchard offers spaces for leisure and relaxation. The mall’s design includes green spaces and outdoor lounges where visitors can take a break and enjoy the outdoors.

These areas provide a serene environment within the bustling mall, offering a perfect spot for relaxation after a day of shopping and entertainment.

Recent Developments and Future Vision

Recent Additions and Renovations

Westfield Old Orchard has continually evolved to keep pace with the changing retail and consumer landscape. In recent years, the mall has welcomed a variety of new stores and brands, enhancing its retail mix.

Notable additions include luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Tory Burch and popular names like Psycho Bunny, which opened its doors to fashion-forward shoppers.

The mall has also seen significant renovations to modernize the space and improve the customer experience. These updates ensure that Westfield Old Orchard remains at the forefront of retail trends.

Future Plans and Developments

Looking towards the future, Westfield Old Orchard has ambitious plans to transform the shopping center further into a multi-use destination.

Key to this vision is plans for new retail, dining, and residential areas. This redevelopment is set to break ground in 2024, with the opening of new spaces planned in phases starting in 2026.

Introducing luxury residences and enhanced dining and retail options is poised to redefine the mall as a comprehensive lifestyle destination.

Vision for a Multi-Use Destination

The future vision for Westfield Old Orchard extends beyond traditional retail. The mall is set to become a hub where shopping, dining, entertainment, and living intersect seamlessly.

This transformation aligns with the broader trend of malls evolving into community-centric spaces, offering a variety of experiences and amenities.

By diversifying its offerings, Westfield Old Orchard is adapting to the changing retail environment and setting a benchmark for the future of shopping centers.

2023: A Year of Transformation at Westfield Old Orchard

Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, IL, has undergone significant transformation throughout 2023, marking a new era in its history.

This year has seen the announcement and commencement of several key developments, reshaping the mall into a modern, multi-faceted destination.

Major Redevelopment and New Openings

The mall’s redevelopment plan, initiated in 2022, continued to unfold in 2023 with several new additions.

Pottery Barn is set to relocate within the mall, taking over a part of the renovated space previously occupied by the Lord & Taylor Department store, which closed in 2018.

This move is part of a broader strategy to revitalize and repurpose key areas of the mall, enhancing the overall shopping experience.

New Retail and Dining Experiences

In addition to Pottery Barn, other notable tenants announced include Arhuas, Puttshack, and a relocated ZARA, all set to open in 2024.

These brands reflect the mall’s commitment to offering diverse shopping options. Furthermore, Canadian women’s fashion brand Aritzia relocated to a new spot in the mall in December 2023.

Culinary Expansion

Westfield Old Orchard is also set to expand its dining options. New restaurants slated to open in 2024 include Cupitol, a unique blend of a restaurant, bakery, café, and exclusive bar, and Cafe Castemila, an independently owned café and bakery.

These additions underscore the mall’s effort to provide visitors with a comprehensive and varied culinary experience.

Retailer Revival and Closures

The mall has welcomed back some familiar names while also saying goodbye to others. Victoria’s Secret/Pink and Barnes & Noble had previously closed their doors and made a comeback, adding to the mall’s retail diversity.

However, 2023 also saw the closure of The Gap and Gap Kids, along with the transformation of Bloomingdale’s into a smaller, more curated concept store, Bloomie’s.

Community and Economic Impact

Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen highlighted the significance of redevelopment in 2022, emphasizing its role in enhancing experiences for residents and visitors and supporting the center as an economic engine for the community.

This vision is coming to fruition in 2023, with the mall steadily transforming into the North Shore’s premier shopping, dining, and entertainment destination.

2023 has been a pivotal year for Westfield Old Orchard, marked by significant changes and exciting new additions.

These developments are not just about enhancing the shopping experience but are also aimed at creating a vibrant community space that caters to various needs and preferences.


Reflecting on Westfield Old Orchard’s Journey

Westfield Old Orchard’s journey from a regional shopping center to a multi-faceted destination is a story of innovation, adaptation, and foresight.

Over the years, the mall has expanded its retail offerings and embraced changes in consumer behavior and retail trends. This adaptability has been key to its enduring success and appeal.

The Mall’s Enduring Appeal and Success

Today, Westfield Old Orchard is a vibrant, dynamic destination offering much more than shopping.

With its diverse mix of retail, dining, entertainment, and upcoming residential spaces, the mall has become a central part of the community. Its ability to evolve while maintaining a unique identity attracts visitors from near and far.

Looking to the Future

As Westfield Old Orchard looks to the future, it is poised to continue its legacy of innovation and excellence.

The planned developments and ongoing enhancements are set to cement the mall’s status as a premier shopping destination and a comprehensive lifestyle experience.

In doing so, Westfield Old Orchard will continue to be a shining example of how shopping centers can adapt, thrive, and remain relevant in an ever-changing world.

Comments: 2
  1. Avatar of Doug Hartman
    Doug Hartman

    I find two things utterly ridiculous regarding the mall. The first is that the elevators have not worked in years. The second is the bogusness of the village charging people an extra 1% sales tax to revitalize the mall. While I like to shop there, I shouldn’t have to pay a cover charge!


    1. Avatar of Spencer Walsh
      Spencer Walsh (author)

      Thank you for sharing your concerns about Westfield Old Orchard Mall. The issue with the elevators is indeed frustrating, and the additional sales tax is a matter of concern for many shoppers. Such issues need to be addressed.

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