Machesney Park Mall; Machesney Park, Illinois

Machesney Park Mall Pylon 2005 in Machesney Park, IL

Everyone carries pieces of nostalgia with them from childhood.  They’re personal memories we can look back and reflect upon, and they generally make us feel warm inside and even give us a sense of pride.  They evoke feelings of ‘way back when’ when things were indeed simpler for us.  We didn’t have to worry about paying bills and living adult lives with their many responsibilities; instead, we worried about whether or not mom would let us buy some candy or a cool toy somewhere, or where we would go for lunch.  Inherent with this sense of nostalgia comes place-making, or the fitting of our memories upon the physical places in which they occurred, thus giving the places richer meaning.   

Machesney Park Mall Directory 2005 in Machesney Park, ILA place of my nostalgia includes the Machesney Park Mall (this website appears to have nothing to do with the mall; the pictures aren’t even from it) near Rockford, Illinois, which opened in 1979 and experienced over a decade of success before falling victim to mass exodus of stores starting in the late 1990s.  The mall is currently in a perilous state, with only a handful stores out of a possible 80 open for business including 3 of the 4 anchor spaces; it is definitely a dead mall.  And recently, the owner is exploring a total redevelopment of the site which almost certainly spells disenclosure for the mall. 

My memories of Machesney Park Mall stem to the late 1980s, starting around 1987 or 1988 when I was a little kid.  My mom and I would drive from home in Janesville, Wisconsin south through Beloit, sometimes stopping at the mall there, and continue on down to Machesney Park which is just north of Rockford.  We often went to this mall because it carried chains not available in Janesville like The Gap and Casual Corner, and had different anchors as well.  It was also a newer mall, by comparison.  Machesney Park Mall was built in 1979, whereas the other shopping centers in Rockford, Janesville, Beloit, and even Madison were built about a decade or more prior.  The most important reason we went was its proximity from home and how easy it was to get there.  My mom didn’t like driving on busy Interstate 90, and this mall was easy to reach via regular roads.  It was also the closest of the malls in Rockford or Madison, which were and still are considered a step up from the malls in Janesville in Beloit, especially since the Beloit Mall closed up shop around the turn of the millenium following a tenuous struggle during most of the 1990s.  

Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, ILOnce we got to Machesney Park Mall, we always parked at Prange’s, the north anchor (later Younkers and now Bergners, owned by Bon-Ton Stores).  After extensive browsing by my mother at Prange’s, we’d enter the mall.  Our first stop was often The Gap which was along the west-facing side of the mall corridor near Prange’s, opposite one of the movie theatres.  That Gap location featured the company’s first logo which it used until 1983, visible in labelscar form here; this old logo has been resurrected more recently by the store itself on apparel.  After The Gap, we’d stop in other stores such as Limited, Deb, Afterthoughts, or one of the shoe stores and my mom would continue shopping.  I recall one of Machesney Park’s shoe stores, Baker’s Shoes, located about halfway down the corridor’s length on the east side.  The store featured long, bright green shag carpeting; it didn’t remodel that look until after 2000.  We also frequently stopped at Casual Corner, which was obviously one of their first prototypes featuring a colonial looking facade complete with amber stained glass lamps and elaborate showcase windows.  It most frequently housed a bicycle store called Humpal’s Bike Rack which has since closed.  Immediately next to the old Casual Corner was an old-school style Spencer’s Gifts featuring a lower-case swiveled logo not unlike the old Gap logo, with yellowish-orange paint along the store’s facade behind the sign.  Spencer’s was still open as of 2001, but has closed since.  After all the shopping we’d sometimes stop at Olga’s Kitchen, a chain of Michigan-based mostly mall-eateries which had a location along the east side of the mall corridor near one of the entrances from Highway 251.  It closed many years ago, possibly over a decade ago, but the space was still being used recently as an area for families to sit and relax while shopping.

Not only do my memories of going to Machesney Park Mall as a child stir up warm nostalgia while tagging along and sharing quality time with my mom during her hours upon hours of shopping, but they typify for me what modern, succcessful malls in the 1980s were like.  The dark tile, angular fountains and decorative skylights complemented the storefronts along the single corridor between Prange’s and JCPenney.  Short side hallways to the west of the main corridor led to Prange Way, Kohl’s, and the other set of Movie Theatres.  But the fountains don’t run anymore at Machesney Park and haven’t for a few years now, and the main corridor is completely barren save for a few people trying to get between the anchors without going outside.  The mall essentially looks exactly as it did when my mom and I frequented it during the late 1980s, except most of the stores are empty and no one’s shopping there.  Good for my reminiscing ability, bad for the mall.

Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall Radio Shack 2001 in Machesney Park, IL

Why did this mall fail?  A specific combination of new development decisions, changing retail demographics, stepped up competition, and generally slower growth in the region’s economy precipitated Machesney Park Mall’s demise.  Let’s go through the mall’s history to pinpoint where things started going downhill.  Opened in 1979, the mall was a joint development between JCPenney and Simon to build a large mall on Rockford’s fast-growing north side.  The communities of Roscoe, Rockton, Machesney Park, and Loves Park were all poised for growth, so it appeared especially prescient for them to build an enclosed mall there.  Also, considering Rockford’s larger, two-level Cherryvale Mall is relatively far away on the far southeast side, the developers thought the mall would become a success.

Machesney Park Mall Bergners 2001 in Machesney Park, ILAnd it did.  Just after opening, the mall added Kohl’s as a fourth anchor, rounding out the mall’s anchor roster along with Prange’s, a mid-tier department store based in Green Bay, Wisc., Prange-Way, a discount department store under the helm of Prange’s, and JCPenney.  Remaining successful throughout the 1980s, the first blow to Machesney Park Mall occurred in 1990 with the closing of the Prange Way store, as a corporate restructuring saw them leave the Rockford market.  That blow was softened in 1991 when Phar-Mor, a hybrid discount store/drug box chain based in Youngstown, Ohio, reclaimed the Prange Way space.  Unfortunately, in 1992 Phar-Mor turned right around and closed their Machesney Park Mall store amid bankruptcy reorganization; their Rockford location remained open for almost another decade.  Also in 1992, Prange’s went bust and was sold to Younkers, another mid-tier department store chain based in Des Moines, Iowa.  Machesney Park Mall soldiered on mostly unscathed, still retaining 3 of its 4 anchor spaces after 1992 with JCPenney, Kohl’s, and Younkers, which became Bergner’s in a name change after both chains were purchased by Saks Incorporated and Saks decided to remove the Younkers name from the Madison, Milwaukee, and Rockford areas. 

During the rest of the 1990s Machesney Park Mall began a slow trend downward, with many long-time retailers leaving such as Gap, The Limited, Casual Corner, Osco Drug and Foxmoor.  Some were replaced with discounty, mom-and-pop style stores, but many became vacant.  In 1997, JCPenney announced it would close its store at the mall after 18 years.  However, the village of Machesney Park convinced them to stay and they did, becoming JCPenney Outlet Store in 1998.  Also in 1998, the old Prange Way/Phar-Mor space retenanted after 6 years as Seventh Avenue Direct, a low-tier discount store with only one other known location in Davenport, Iowa.  On the eve of the new millenium, Machesney Park Mall finally had all 4 anchors filled but was no longer a top-tier destination mall but instead was trending toward a discount or secondary mall.

Machesney Park Mall front entrance 2001 in Machesney Park, ILChanges since 2000 have essentially turned Machesney Park Mall from a potential gold mine as an ancillary, discount center to that of a ghost town destined for oblivion.  In 2001, Kohl’s left Machesney Park for a strip mall in an emerging development near the intersection of Ill. 251 and Ill. 173, about 1 mile north of the mall.  The new development at 173 and 251 has also brought a heap of new boxes, strip malls, and restaurants to Machesney Park, including Home Depot, Menard’s, Target, Gordman’s, Chili’s, Panera Bread, Del Taco, EB Games and more.  A new interchange currently under construction will allow easy access from I-90 at Ill. 173 in early 2007.  Unfortunately, all of this development is along this corridor and not near the mall itself.  Notably, very few of Machesney Park Mall’s outlots have ever been developed, except for a Taco Bell and a Tom & Jerry’s fast food location.  In fact, there is mostly residential development buffering the mall.  The village of Machesney Park outwardly encouraged this new development along Ill. 173 to be closer to the new interchange and not near the mall.  Why they did this is puzzling.  Wouldn’t it make sense to put resources toward revitalizing the ailing enclosed mall rather than to encourage new development almost a mile away?  All of these boxes and development could have been placed at or near Machesney Park Mall rather than where they were placed and all of this development has occurred over the past five years.  In fact, businesses have been leaving Machesney Park Mall for the new development just north of it.  GNC gave up the ghost inside the mall at the beginning of December 2006 for new digs at Ill. 173 and 251.   

Further agonizing Machesney Park Mall is other competition in Rockford, most notably Cherryvale Mall on the far southeast side of town.  Immediately adjacent to Interstates 90/39 and U.S. 20, Rockford’s southern belt, Cherryvale has undoubtedly always been the dominant retail center in Rockford since it opened in the early 1970s.  It’s larger at two-stories with 134 stores, and contains a top-tier roster of both anchors and in-line store space.  But in 2004, it renovated its dated look and added JCPenney as an anchor, further strengthening its position in Rockford.  Cherryvale is also located near the center of retail for the Rockford area, East State Street, which is lined for miles with boxes, restaurants, and strip malls galore.  Highway 251/North Second St. has always been an ancillary strip corridor, but has never been up to par with the offerings on E. State St.  Furthermore, with the new development at 173/251, Machesney Park Mall stands virtually no chance.   

Machesney Park Mall Spencers 2001 in Machesney Park, ILIn fact, its time may finally be up.  Since Kohl’s left in 2001, stores have been bleeding from Machesney Park Mall.  In 2002, Simon unloaded the mall on local rockford real estate developer Rubloff.  That same year, Waldenbooks and Rogers & Hollands closed.  In 2003, Kay-Bee Toys and Sam Goody closed.  In 2004, the popular HobbyTown USA closed and relocated away from the mall.  Also during 2004, talks stirred of redevelopment but never went anywhere.  In 2006, Lens Crafters, Deb Shops and Foot Locker closed, with the former relocating in a new strip mall along Ill. 173 about a mile north.  JCPenney Outlet, Bergner’s, and Seventh Avenue are still open and remain mostly unaffected by the mall’s demise.  In fact, the anchors are independently owned and the JCPenney Outlet is a very busy and profitable location.

Recently in the Rockford Register-Star, buzz has been once again generated about the mall’s redevelopment.  They are in the process of exchanging ideas about what to do with the failed mall, and most ideas which have surfaced have involved disenclosing the indoor portion of the mall and building a strip mall in its place.  That way, the stores will face Ill. 251 directly and so will the anchors, Bergner’s and JCPenney Outlet.  Other ideas involve invoking the ever-popular Lifestyle Center idea, bringing office space, residential, and retail to the mix. 

To me, Machesney Park Mall’s failure represents our wasteful throwaway society.  The mall, or at least parts of it, could have been saved by placing all or parts of the new development there, instead of building anew and creating more sprawl.  It could have had continued success despite the changing retail demographics and competition and repositioned as a discount or even an outlet mall.  Instead, the decision was made to allow the mall to fail completely, and that’s such a shame.  I’ll probably go down and visit one last time before the doors are shut for good and the inevitable wrecking ball comes to reclaim the physical structure of my childhood nostalgia.  But hey, I’ll always have the memories. 

Machesney Park in 1979 (top) and 2007 (bottom), Copyright 2007 Rockford Register Star

UPDATE 5/23/07: The other shoe has dropped. Rubloff has announced a massive redevelopment for the site, including the demolition of the center court area which will begin in June.  Replacing it will be a tree-lined street with fountains, and the rest will become a focal point for the Village of Machesney Park.  It will not only feature retail, but a place for festivals, living space, and more.  The two anchors which remain currently, JCPenney Outlet and Bergners, will stay in their spaces.  More detailed plans will be announced in the coming weeks. 

It’ll be interesting to see if they keep any of the mall’s superstructure or even leave any enclosed space whatsoever.  I’m also not sure what kind of retail would want to be at this site, considering most of it has recently clustered about a mile north at the intersection with IL 173 which will very soon have an interchange with I-90/39, spurring even more growth.  I suppose if they make it attractive enough, and indeed promote it as the centerpiece for the community, the ‘if you build it, they will come’ mentality may cause an inflow of businesses to the long-abandoned site.

I took the following pictures in July 2001.  Note that many stores seem closed, but were actually just closed for the night.  As usual, feel free to leave your comments and observations.

Machesney Park Mall Waldenbooks 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall JCPenney Outlet 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall Kay-Bee Toys 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall Kohls 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall old Casual Corner 2001 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall Seventh Avenue Direct 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall Seventh Avenue Direct 2001 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall Outlot 2001 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2001 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall Pylon 2001 in Machesney Park, IL

These pictures were taken in June 2005.  Since then, most of these stores have also closed.

Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall Seventh Avenue Direct 2005 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall former Kohls 2005 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall JCPenney Outlet 2005 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall 2005 in Machesney Park, IL

Machesney Park Mall Seventh Avenue Direct 2005 in Machesney Park, IL

Finally, here are some awesome vintage pics courtesy of John Gallo.  They are most likely from the early 80s save for the Younkers one which is from the 90s.  I especially love the vintage cursive Kohl’s sign and obviously, Prange Way.

Machesney Park Mall Prange Way in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall Vintage Kohls in Machesney Park, IL scan0018.jpg

Machesney Park Mall Prange's in Machesney Park, IL Machesney Park Mall JCPenney in Machesney Park, IL

93 thoughts on “Machesney Park Mall; Machesney Park, Illinois”

  1. Those 2001 storefronts look ancient! I can’t believe they stayed there that long!

    Anyway, take a look at the map on Rubloff’s page. Pretty sad, no?

  2. It’s even less than that now. All of those national chains are gone like Deb, Foot Locker, Lens Crafters….there are probably less than 5 stores left.

  3. Odd, I thought this mall had closed up for good. I’m surprised it hasn’t been sealed up yet(especially since JCPenney + Bergner’s have stores over at CherryVale). But hey, maybe I might just try to head west to here some time, before its too late(since I live in Chicago, and anyways, I’ve always wanted to see Rockford for myself..).

    Oh yeah, and speaking of the Rockford area, I actually found a wikipedia entry on Beloit Plaza(dead mall just to the north), in case anyone cares to read up on it, like me:

  4. And oh yeah, I loved the shots of the old-looking Radio Shack and Spencer’s Gifts! (the Spencer’s especially is an awesome find) I hadn’t seen an old Spencer’s or Radio Shack logo still in use in ages, though I do remember that there was one Radio Shack store not far from my neighborhood in Chicago that had the old logo on it until like 3-5 years ago.

  5. Uh oh… low roof. The kiss of death! Outside of that, this mall seems in relatively good shape, maintenance-wise. It’s too bad what’s happening to it. Maybe they should have thought about making it on outlet mall. Once Penney’s converts to an outlet store, your clientele drops a notch. They aren’t there for upscale shopping, or even mid-market. They are there for bargains.
    Anyway, I’m glad you got some photos of the place before its demolished!

  6. That is the certainly the most bizarre ’70s looking Radio Shack I’ve ever seen; and I’m not just talking about that long phased logo. Lots of hideous but unique facades from malls of the earlier eras. This mall is certainly a retail relic and you’ve got to love all those shades of brown! This mall is sadly losing out to the post millennial let’s-finally-update-everything to today standard – even if the result is minimalist.

  7. Ouch! From “Hero to Zero” in a decade!

    You’re like me when it comes to those malls that you remember being so vibrant when you’re a kid, only to follow along as newer development, as it slowly fades away.

    I can’t help but shake my head when looking at these pictures…what a waste. Despite the very dated late-1970s decor (Doesn’t even look like it got a remodel….if it did, those fountains would be long gone, along with the terra-cotta colored flooring), it’s very structurally sound to my eyes. Nicely preserved, if I say so myself.

    To the unknowing: Take note of how close Bergners and Seventh Avenue are on the mallmanac/directory. When Pranges and PrangeWay anchored enclosed malls like this, often times they would build close together, such the layout of this mall has, or (on the rare occasion) built out a combo store, such as what was done at Madison’s East and West Towne Malls.

    It’s too bad Kohl’s bailed ship. Having them along with Bergners (which is Younkers in my neck of WI, basically same store, different nameplate), a successful Penney Outlet, and that discounter that replaced the former Prange-Way, does make for a fairly strong anchor lineup to a discount-oriented mall. If I had control of things, that’s whawt I would have done with this mall.

    Speaking of old storefronts, DEB Shops (You’ve mentioned them in a few posts, including this one) also used to have an obvious giveaway of a storefront in these older malls. Most of these locations have since closed or remodeled during the mid 1990s influx of apparel retailer bankruptcies. Lots of mirrors…mirrored paneling making up the storefront. Interiors were dark (usually), with fuschia or violet shag carpet, walls done in violet and green. The storefront sign was also in green. Colors were rearranged / changed throughout the 1980s until 1994, when they went to a more modern store prototype that brightened the interior and dumped the mirrored storefronts, adding neon accents. It was one of those stores my mother shopped at a lot when I was younger, that’s why I remember it so vividly.

    Retail relic indeed. I don’t think this one will last too much longer. The remaining anchors would still be present, but the mall itself is looking ready to shutter.

  8. Ugh, those tiled ceilings always make a mall look so trashy. A renovation before Kohl’s closed could’ve probably helped things a bit- the mall’s age is certainly showing. Looks to me like this mall was killed mostly by disinterested owners.

  9. I visited this mall (not knowing it was a dead mall) and thought it was really interesting how it appears as if just one day mall management decided to shut everything down without notice or something. You just walk past store after store and they’re all empty and labelscarred up. I wouldn’t be surprised if the few stores that were there when I was there, are no longer around.

    The one thing that shocked me the most was how the mall is surprisingly clean. Clean floors, filled candy machines (I bet the pop machines in the mall are filled!) and just clean overall. You’d think a mall that really only has anchor stores and not much else would suffer some form of vandalism…but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

    As far as those “anchors” at Machesney…JCPenney Outlet is just weird and they don’t even sell typical JCP merchandise. Bergner’s is a nice store…much like Carson’s and I like them. Seventh Ave. Direct is just downright odd! It’s like some kind of clearance center for stores that closed up and had to do something with their leftover merchandise. This is definitely a very dead mall but it really has potential if someone wanted to do something about it. It’s not dilapidated or run down by any means, they just need some stores!!

  10. If anybody was having an “incredibly well-preserved ’70s mall” competition, this place would win! I like it. It’s perfect in that context.

    The JCPenney was interesting. I’ve seen designs like this before (they built a pile of these back in that era that looked identical) but I’m kind of surprised they removed most of the interior mirrors from the mall entrance. Most JCP outlet conversions leave them up. Also I’m sure there are some painted over garage doors somewhere on that store. It’s a hallmark of that design, as it was the last generation of full-line ’70s era stores built.

    Still, I think the inability of the mall owners to change with the times may have helped render this mall irrelevant. I mean, look at Radio Shack and Spencers. A smart landlord would have at least encouraged those stores to update a little. they’re cool looking but no store from those chains has looked like that since i was still in grade school!


    I Haven’t seen one since the gigantic one in Manchester,CT closed back in 2003!

    Those stores have become a rarity!

    the mall interior is just so dang beautiful,yet it’s all empty! too bittersweet for me.

    What a waste of good design on something so obviously temporary.

  12. take off the roof, make it an outlet mall, oh and yeah and put an actual park in there also.

    Make it more something like a street somewhat.

    PLEASE ANYTHING but another strip center.

    those things are unattractive and a big waste of good real estate IMHO.

  13. I almost forgot attract new tenants perferably business that are not going anywhere soon.

  14. The Spencer Gifts storefront did not look typical – the logo is the old logo, but it looks like they took an existing storefront and converted it – unless it is an old prototype (similar to the old Spencer’s location at Auburn in Massachusetts – prior to their remodel)

  15. I visited this mall on the day after Thanksgiving of 2006. The pictures here on the website are quite accurate – the place is neat and clean but almost entirely closed except for the anchors. Bergners and JC Penney Outlet were busy on the day I was there, but Seventh Avenue was not. Elsewhere in the mall, there was a T-shirt shop and a nail salon on one end, and on the far end there was a guy who had set up in the Things Remembered store evidently selling his old junk and knicknacks. That’s ALL that was open! Its a long walk from one end to the other, and even though it was the official start to the holiday shopping season, there was NOTHING there to reflect that fact. No decorations, no Santa, etc. A handful of old folks were walking around for exercize, and that was it. Oh, and it was freezing cold inside. I’ve never been in such a silent mall; I think the buzzing of the flourescent lights was the only sound aside from footsteps.

  16. You know it’s bad when a Regis Salon closes.

  17. this made me want to cry. i feel exactly the same as the writer. my best friend and who grew up in machesney park took a visit to the store about a week ago and it felt like we were walking through a ghost town. it was the most awful feeling in the world. this is where the huge chunk of my great memories were made and now there is nothing but a bergners and a jcpenny. (the only other store that survived was a t-shirt shop which was- when i visited- in the process of packing and moving to state street)

    i cannot help but think of how convenient and fun it would be if we still had a mall in such close proximity to our homes.

    long story short, my friend and i fell like our childhood is being stolen with the closing of the mall.

  18. When did this Kohl’s open? Must have opened with the mall. They quit using the cursive logo in 1985-1986….discontinued after BATUS dumped Kohls off to management (Shortly before BATUS sold off the chain though, they did start to expand into IL and a couple other states, so there may have been stores down there that used the old script signage that I don’t know about). Their current logo that you always see on their boxes now has been in use since the buyout from management.

    Of course, the rest about Kohls from that point on, is retail history. 🙂

    That Prange-Way logo is the only one I’m familiar with and brings back so many memories of my childhood spent at the location at Forest Mall (which P-Way was an anchor from 1973- 1996). This particular logo was introduced in 1979-1980, when Prange’s also switched their logotype and image, and took both their mother store, and Prange Way, upscale, hurting both chains.

    I think I still have the layout in my memory of my local store even.

    They anchored several other malls here in WI as well, not just my local haunt. I miss them greatly. 🙁 If they were still around, I’d be shopping there any time I needed something, just like my mother did.

    I need to check up on old threads here at Labelscar more often than I do. I enjoyed the updated image galleries, and it’s sad that this mall is going to be changed over. All in the name of progress I suppose.

  19. I take back my question of when Kohl’s opened. That store in the pics looks EXACTLY like the store at both South Towne Mall in Madison (abelt, they have the current signage), and East Town Mall (Green Bay)’s former location. They moved into Prange Way’s old digs at that mall shortly before Hobby Lobby took over Kohls’ old spot and opened their first Wisconsin store at that mall.

    Both those opened in 1981, putting Machesney Park’s store roundabout that year.

  20. I had no idea at the time, but a few days my friend and I walked the length of the mall on what was apparently the last day of it even being open. It was seriously a ghost town. I have so many memories of the Easter Bunny and Santa, and Olgas, and Sam Goody. I still do not quite understand what they’re going to do with the mall. Completely gut the inside of the mall? It’s a shame because the mall is clean, and structurally in tact. I don’t even think the architectural design is too dated. New floors and lighting would have done the mall some good. But when it comes down to it, why would anyone choose Machesney over Cherryvale? Anyway…

  21. It’s truly sad to see Machesney Park Mall go the way of the Dodo. I too made many a trip to the mall with my mom & dad. Lot’s of good memories. In later years, I hung out there with friends through the end of high school. Considering how sound the structure appears to be, one would think revitalizing the mall, rather than demolishing it, would be the best course of action. Unfortunately, the explosive commercial development along the IL-173 corridor has spelled the end of the mall’s practical life. So sad – yet another memory that fades into history.

  22. After reading of the redevelopment plans, I decided to make a follow-up visit to the mall on my way home from Wisconsin today. Since I was there last (six months ago), the remaining stores in the mall have ALL closed – the nail salon, the T-shirt place and the curio shop. So as of this date the mall portion is 100% dead. Bergner’s and JC Penney looked busy, but Seventh Avenue did not; they had exactly 8 vehicles in their lot (unless people prefer parking around the corner with everyone else). They have also removed the pop machines and candy machines from the mall. However, the big development is – they have sealed the mall off from the anchor stores. The doors from the anchors to the mall are closed and locked, with signs posted that the mall is now closed for “construction”. Yeah, right. We all know what that means – probably will see the demolition equipment there next time. I was surprised that the side entrances into the mall from the parking lot were still open. But even that, I doubt will last very long.

  23. Hi. I’m a lifelong resident of the Rockford area and I’ve lived on the Loves Park/Machesney Park border for the last 12 years. My house is literally a 10-12 minute drive from the mall. I’ve spent much time in the mall over the years, and even a good deal of time in it in recent months and years as it died it’s slow death. I witnessed all of the stores leave and I’d like to clear up some misconceptions and provide some insight for onlookers.

    One, the idea that the mall’s decline began in the ’90s is wrong. As recently as six years ago, it was still about 75-80% full. Things didn’t start to get REALLY bad until Rubloff bought the mall. Why couldn’t Rubloff resurrect a seemingly clean, healthy property that doesn’t look too dated in an economically thriving area you ask? Simple. All the development taking place along 173 (Kohl’s, EB Games, Panera Bread, etc)? That’s Rubloff’s property. That’s Rubloff’s development. Highway 173 might be their most lucrative development and most notable accomplishment since the magnificent mile. They didn’t buy the Mall to save it. They bought it to ensure nobody else could bring it back to life and steal away potential business from their 173 developments a mile to the north. After Kerasotes closed the movie theaters in late summer 2005 for a new 14 theater multiplex built…..guess where……at Perryville Road and Hwy 173……it became pretty obvious the mall was on borrowed time. Now after they’ve completely run the mall into the ground, they magically produce this idea to turn it into a defacto town square that’ll spare Bergner’s and the JC Penney Outlet Store, and Village Idiot….er, President Linda Vaughn is just enough of a sucker to give them a super sweet tax credit to pull it off. I don’t want a strip mall and a water fountain and whatever else Rubloff wants to do with this land, I’d much prefer to keep the mall the way it is. I was born the year it opened, I grew up with this mall. I have more memories of this place than I can keep count of. And I know the people of this community. We’re not artsy types. We don’t care that Cherryvale looks more modern than Machesney. We don’t care that the rest of America views the indoor shopping mall as a dinosaur. We aren’t stuck up ourselves like that. If a retailer had chain stores in both Cherryvale and Machesney that sold merch of equal quality, the people of Loves Park, Machesney Park, Rockton, Roscoe and South Beloit would much prefer to shop at Machesney instead of Cherryvale (until about five years ago, that’s exactly what we did). But we won’t get a chance to do that now because of the Rubloff Development Group.

    Btw, to whom it may concern……the nail shop and t-shirt silkscreener actually remained open in the mall until the it’s demolition was publicly announced at the end of May (the nail shop’s reopening about a mile north on N. 2nd St/Hwy 251…..the opposite direction of 173; I have no idea if they t-shirt shop’s reopening elsewhere or not).

    – The black & white top/then half of the top-bottom/then-vs-now photo was taken in March of 1991 (it’s the same photo that ran in the Rockford Register Star the morning after the demolition was announced)

    – Seventh Avenue Direct is a low, low, low, low, LOOOOOOOOOOOOOW tier retail store. It’s parent company is Monroe, WI based Swiss Colony. If they find a broken rooster weathervane in their warehouse, they throw it in a semi-trailer, and haul it an hour out of town to Machesney where a sticker’s slapped on it and sold for $4. Both Simon and Rubloff wasted an anchor store on this trash establishment (which, for some unexplainable reason, will remain open until the wrecking ball shows up).

    – The mall’s interior wasn’t locked off until the first week of June. I personally was attempting to put together a going away party at the mall this weekend but Rubloff wouldn’t allow it.

  24. Trevor, thanks for a great post! Very interesting reading!

    “- The mall’s interior wasn’t locked off until the first week of June. I personally was attempting to put together a going away party at the mall this weekend but Rubloff wouldn’t allow it. ”

    Hmmm, so my interior visit on June 2 may have been the very last one of all time by a Laberscar reader….. (I’m assuming the group of kids riding their bikes through the corridors of the mall that day weren’t readers of this site).

  25. “Hmmm, so my interior visit on June 2 may have been the very last one of all time by a Laberscar reader”

    Yeah, it was. I last walked through the interior on May 29th.

  26. The mall could have been recreated as a discount/outlet center. A flea market could’ve been added as well.

  27. Charles- You may definitely post pictures here. In fact, it’s encouraged. And, thanks!

  28. Never ventured into Machesney Park Mall when I lived in Rockford… Hell, I thought it was abandoned until a guy I worked with told me otherwise.


  29. I’m very sorry to hear that the mall was just sealed a month ago, and is about to be demolished. But then again, it’s screwy as heck that Rubloff only bought this mall, to protect this mall from competiting w/their strip malls to the north of here. (it sounds like they managed this mall and let it die, the way mall slumlord Hayward Wrichard(sp?) manages malls… *sigh*)

    Too bad I never got to look at this mall just ONCE, before it was sealed for good….. 🙁

  30. It, of course, also makes me angry that Rubloff let this mall die, too! Especially if it was thriving somewhat, as recently as the early 2000s(even if back then, it was still in the shadow of the success of Cherryvale….).

  31. WoW I’m sad to have found this out about MP Mall i can remember so many great times there. So they (Rubloff) has killed off a great mall go fig on that. I was in MP around Jan 07 and now i regret not taking pictures of my fav mall. Growing up in LP and graduating Harlem in 98, going to MP elementary across the street in 6Th grade and going to the mall many days after school what a blast. Man i remember leaving LP/MP in Feb of 2003 my friends from Living Word took me out to the Texas style cook your own steaks, man i wish i could remember that name, cause dang that was a great memory at the mall afterwords still it was thriving back then. Does any body have full 360 pics of MP Mall by a chance? Ty Patrick

  32. Eager for an update, I rode out to Machesney Park today to see what was happening there. Well….. Seventh Avenue Direct has closed and moved to Cherryvale Mall; they had signs posted on the door dated “August 2007” stating they are closing and moving. Not sure when they actually closed, but keep in mind this is August 11 and they have already cleared out the store and removed the name from the exterior entrance. Quick, eh?

    Anyway, there’s been no sign of demolition. I went into the JC Penney store so I could look into the mall, and it still looks untouched. They haven’t even painted or papered over the doors between Penney’s and the mall – which is something I would have expected them to do since everywhere else they tend to do this. Penney’s even has their mallside checkout lanes, however, they were closed too, since there is no longer any reason to check out there.

  33. Seventh Avenue Direct at Cherryvale? What space did they take there? I’m guessing it isn’t as big. But it probably still has the junk that fell off their truck for sale…

  34. Oh my gosh!!! I am so stuck in the past! I have been trying to find a listing of all the shops in Machesney’s hayday. I was at this mall every weekend of my preteen life! I remember Foxmoor, Circus World, Spencer’s, Deb (I worked there for a while), Lerner, and does anyone remember World Bazaar and The Loading Dock??? I remember all the different colored paper and cute pens and pencils in there…oh take me back, take me back!!!

  35. Music Land, Prange Way, Pranges, Orangle Julius, Radio Shack, The Ice Cream Parlor (Don’t remember the name), Electronic Experience (the video arcade)…now that was a hangout spot!! I blew A LOT of quarters there!!!!

    I know…its sad. Really sad. Considering the growth the growth in Machesney Park and now the 173 off-ramp on I-90. That mall just needed a serious makeover and it would have been great again. WHAT A HUGE WASTE!

  36. Hey guys I too grew up within walking distance to the mall in the late 70’s early 80’s. I can’t believe how the end of one building can make us all feel literally sick to our stomachs. I have moved away 20 years ago but visited the mall in 2005. I wanted to show my teens how cool of a place I hung at. I was shocked. I hoped someone would save it, but I guess it’s another casualty of the changing times.(And not for the better) Will one of you go say good-bye to it for me! And thanks for the pictures of old for a minute I was 16 again.

  37. I never noticed that the rather glum generic toy store, simply named “Toys”, is a repainted version of Kay-Bee Toys. (pictures 13 and 33)

  38. Great writeup.

    I remember going to Machesney Park Mall as a kid with my grandparents, who lived in Machesney Park. Then I remember how it was in 2002-04, when it was part of my sales territory before I moved away from the Rockford area. Sad.

    But despite the comments of an earlier commenter, Machesney Park Mall was in decline long before Rubloff bought it. That said, they made little to no effort to improve it.

    Also interesting – the red Firebird in the picture above? That’s a guy I went to high school with; I still remember the license plate. Funny stuff.

  39. Seventh Avenue’s new location is in the lower level of the Sears wing of Cherryvale.

    By the way, there’s been no evidence of any demolition at the mall. None. I’ve got a funny feeling this will drag out for years and turn out as another boondoggle. So if anyone’s eager to see this mall one last time, by all means do so – you can look in clear as day from the climate-controlled comfort of the JC Penney Outlet Store. Nothing has changed inside, although the trees in the planters are looking pretty dead by now.

  40. Dragged out for years…….

    I sense another Lakeview Centre on the horizon. That mall (in Manitowoc WI) has the same problem. Owned by someone that does nothing with the building. Yet it has viable end-anchor spots still open and humming along.

    Ah well, the mall will always be open here thanks to the preservation of its interior in picture form.

  41. I can’t help but get a little wistful over these images: This, indeed, was late ’70s/early ’80s mall architecture at its finest.

    I’m reminded of the Mercer Mall in Bluefield, West Virginia, which opened in 1980: In fact, JCPenney’s exterior facade almost looks like a carbon copy. This mall’s original interior was well-preserved until earlier this year, when they tore out the planters, benches, bridge, and fountain and carpeted over the brown brick, leaving nothing but flat, dark, and boring floor in its wake. Kind of depressing, actually.

  42. I love this mall. I can have a moment in my head of being there. When I go there now, all I see is a JC Pennys and many good memories of full. They are empty stores now.

  43. My neighbor’s parents actually owned a jewelry store in the MPM and after several years of paying ridiculous rent prices for the space, they relocated to South Beloit, WI. The pictures definitely bring back memories for me, as a lot of my early teens was spent taking young ladies to the movie theaters (of which there were two for a long time before they closed the smaller one).

    crazy stuff.

  44. I see JC Penney has finally paneled over the entrance doors and windows inside their store, so its no longer possible to gaze into the mall from inside the store. Bergner’s, however, still has their mall entrance doors intact looking like they just closed them yesterday. Its just like Euclid Square in suburban Cleveland – you can look in the mall but not usually actually go inside.

  45. That Kohl’s looks exactly like the one at East Town Mall in Green Bay, Wisconsin, which later became the Hobby Lobby craft store.

  46. A JCPenney outlet store is basically the dumping ground of the regional stores. Everything is out-of-date, looks like a rummage sale, may have defects, and most of everything has already been picked through. But there ARE low prices!

  47. Does anyone remember the name of the ice cream parlor that was in the mall? I have vivid memories of my brother, myself, and a couple of friends riding our bikes from the southside of Rockford to the mall to watch movies, play video games, and eat that ice cream during the mid 80’s.

  48. The name of the ice cream place was Bresler’s.

  49. Man, I hate to get sentimental and all — but I gotta take it there. I left Rockford in 1990 and, maybe, caught a movie at the Mach when I came home on leave the same year or the following year. The movie was Predator 2.

    So, to make a long story short, it breaks my heart to say that I really don’t remember too much about the mall because it’s been almost 20 years since I checked it out. I do recall that Cherryvale Mall was the spot as opposed to the Mach — but the Mach was holding it’s own in a toned-down sort-of-way. There was a comic book store right down the road that my brothers and I would hit up on the way to the Mach.

  50. At one point I had considered buying the Petland franchise at Machesney Park, but after observing the diminishing foot traffic and researching when leases expired, I opted against it. Good thing. This was back in 1990. I can still remember the guy that owned it; he was the sheriff…Owen R. It’s too damn bad that Simon let this one slip into the zone, because Machesney was kind of different, with the Olga’s Kitchen and small town feeling.

  51. they have started demolition of this once great mall. the doors are boarded up. and the malls inside is bulldozed. the whole building and roof are still intact. i cant help but wonder why just bulldoze and tear out the inside and the stores? it made me very sad to see it….

  52. Does any one know who owns the old taco bell building.
    I would like to open a store there if rent is low.

  53. Well,what can I say that hasn’t been said about Machesney Park Mall?


    I was a teenager & lived just 2 blocks away from this mall on Ravere St. from about 82′ until the 90’s.I went to school across the street from it at Franklin middle school.The mall was packed when I was younger.Many quarters wasted in the arcade,Going to try on the Halloween masks at Spencers,Spending many days looking through the records,tapes,& finally cds at Musicland,eating wafflefries & eggrolls at Charlie Chans,Getting the latest metal t-shirts & posters at Shirt Bazaar,Watching Pee wees’ big adventure about 5 times at the Movies at Machesney,getting busted stealing at Kohls,spending my whole entire day at the mall with not a dime in my pocket wearing my newest clothes trying to score a look from some beautiful,young girls.
    It makes me extremely sad to see the Machesney mall the way it looks today.I have kids now & wish I could let them see it the way I did when I was a teenager.
    I know those days are over though.
    Great memories!!!!

  54. I grew up in Freeport (home to another dead mall – Lincoln) but had relatives in Rockford. I remember going to the Orange Julius there in the 80s and getting an egg added for 25 cents! That was pre-salmonella scare.

  55. does anyone remember the name of the clothing store down by JCPenney and Seno’s? The name is driving me nuts!!

  56. I grew up in Machesney Park and remember the mall well. I worked at the Kohls and World Bazaar and spent much of my free time going to the movies and the arcade. I hadn’t heard anything about the mall since I left the area in 1981. Looking at the pictures I am saddened as I have so many good memories from the mall. I am going to miss the Machesney Park Mall.

  57. According to WIFR (local CBS affiliate), there was a fire at one of the west entrances today (4/1/09) while a welder was working on the entrance. No injuries reported and the damage was nonexistent due to work to be completed. Word has it that there is going to be a Burlington Coat Factory at the location.

    The story is also on the Rockford Register Star’s website:

  58. I grew up in this area in the 70’s and 80’s. Before the mall was built I remember my dad taking us to see the fireworks on this land after the airport closed to make way for the mall. Machesney Park Mall: We had cheerleading competitions in this mall during Christmas break every year with all the squads from local junior high and high schools. During high school and while at home on college breaks I would work at this mall. Kohl’s was a huge, and very successful anchor. I am so sad viewing these current photos. Parts of the mall are so stale, generic and unrecognizable. In the early to late 80’s Machesney Park Mall was energetic and jam packed busy! During November thru mid January parking was next to impossible. Times change. I left the area long ago. As sad as this demise is of MPM, not surprising considering the location.

  59. I drove be the mall today; there is what looks to be a Staples store (the lettering isn’t up yet but its the familiar red background) built into the mall adjacent to the JC Penney. I think what they did was remove the exterior wall of the mall (the corrugated brick or whatever it was) and replaced it with the new Staples wall. Its beige. Looking in where I could, it looks like the remainder of the rest of the mall is gutted.

  60. I find it odd that in the thirty years I have been gone from the area that the once grass airfield turned into a huge mall that prospered and died in that space of time.

    Whatever happened to the airplane hanging from the ceiling?

    I moved away from North Park (now Machesney Park) when I graduated in ’78. Rockford had an unemployment rate of 27 or 28 percent at the time, (highest in the nation) and I gave up looking for a job before I even started and moved West.

    When I left, the spot was the recently closed Machesney Airport, which had been famous for being the oldest airport still in operation. An A&W root beer stand was near the airport. It was shaped like a huge orange root beer barrel, and still had the trays that hooked to the window.

    My brother bought a gun at the mall from a sporting goods store that was clearancing them out after the owner’s son committed suicide with a gun. Years later, he went back to the mall, and on that day a man set himself on fire during the Christmas shopping.

    Gosh, after just reminiscing about the “Santa Claus Incident” in the North Towne mall blurb, I just realized why people might have avoided holiday shopping at these “dead malls”;-)

  61. A very important factor to this mall’s death was the lack of nearby restaraunts in Machesney Park. The East State and Perryville development in the late 90’s and early 2000’s forced consumers looking for the newest in casual dining and shopping away from “the Parks” and out to Rockford’s new East Side.

    If you wanted an evening out you didn’t go to Machesney Park Mall – it was even out of your way, because even at good capacity, there were few dining options that were tied to the mall.

    For many years the outlots of Machesney Park Mall sat empty. How would things have been had the village encouraged an Applebees-style businesses to use that space.

    Perhaps the failed Rev’d Up should have opened in Machesney Park Mall. Renovating the old Logli-space was difficult, though I’m not sure the outcome would have been any differant.

  62. I can recall my mom dropping us kids off at the mall circa 1981-1983. We would spend the day there and she would pick us up in the afternoon. My friend Erv worked at the ice cream place (forgot the name) maloney’s? and my girlfriend worked at YORK STEAKHOUSE. I recall one day my buddy was fishing for quarters in one of the fountains and my brother gave him a shuv! Right into the fountain! Another fond memory was me buying Doors and Led Zeppelin posters at Spencer’s gifts and sneaking a look at the 16 and up only sex gag gifts. In 1992 I bought a T-shirt that had the movie “singles” printed on it. I just recentley sold it on ebay for 10.00. 2003 was probably the last time I was there and I almost cried. The mall was just a ghost of what it had once been back in the hay days 79-89. I expected to see tumble weeds rolling down the once packed court yard. They weren’t even running the heat. Those were some of the best days ever 81-89 and oh… about Olga’s Kitchen? Yummmmmmmmmm!

  63. It was Id. It was my favorite, and it was owned by Pranges

  64. I loved Machesney Mall too. I sat in English in 7th grade across the street at Franklin Middle School while they were building it. The days when my mom could drop us off there to hang out all day with no fear of abduction. The mall had amazing stores when it opened…Northern Reflections, Casual Corner, the Gap but it’s definitely in the past. I’m happy to see the Burlington Coat Factory open there. Even though I don’t usually shop that store, I plan to go just to support the redevelopment. Let’s hope there’s more right around the corner.

  65. The mall of my youth.
    Where I grew up (Kevin Smith style)
    …so so sad
    …yet so so crazily interesting. Time changes things for sure. I like to walk thru, recognize the destruction, get nostalgic, and have a good chuckle, for lack of a better term….

    MPM for LIFE!!

  66. Hello Prange Way! This is Lee, i’m the artist who is doing wok for you as a gift. Just wanted to let you know that I am finished with yours. I spilled water on Caldor’s, so i had to start over. I would like to mail the piece to you. Please send me a letter with an address that I can mail to, or send me an email. I can only check my e-mail on the weekend, b/c i can’t access email at work or home. My address is 1614 Oak Creek Ln. Apt. K Bedford TX, 76022. Best wishes, Lee

  67. @Charles,

    Eh scratch that; the “Staples” store turned out to be a Burlington Coat Factory. The cream and red scheme led me to think it looked like it would be a Staples. Anyway, Burlington Coat Factory is open at MPM and the rest of the mall is still standing but gutted inside (Bergner’s and JCPenney are of course still open).

  68. Even though I am not originally from the Rockford/Parks area, I am connected to the group of people with memories of this mall.

    You see, my first job I ever held in Illinois was for a store called “Sports Sensation” that opened in 1998 or 1999… It was part of Jeffersonville, IN-based Acton Enterprises and another store owned by the company going by the name of “Shoe Sensation” was located next door on the other side of the access corridor. The Sports Sensation specialized mostly in sports shoes, apparel, and headwear. The store also sold Urbanwear which I think was part of its demise sometime in 2001 or 2002. Certain people had a tendency to come in and buy the most popular urbanwear and shoes to match, then wear the clothes/shoes out for the night/weekend. They then returned the clothing and shoes the following Monday which hurt the salespeople’s sales figures, as well as the store’s, only to do it again a few weeks later. Shame on certain Rockford-area people for this practice of getting something for nothing.

  69. Is this mall still open? Or was it ever redeveloped? Anyone have any information on this dead horse? The last update was from 2007.

  70. @CoryTJ,
    The mall itself is closed. Bergner’s and JC Penney Outlet Store are still open. Burlington Coat Factory has recently opened inline next to JC Penney. The interior of the mall has been gutted and will eventually be replaced with other big box tenants. The plan for the property is to demall the building and make an inline shopping center. See ( ) for more. The reason it has taken so long for the redevelopment has been the economy which has it the Rockford area particularly hard. I imagine this property will once again prosper as the economy recovers.

  71. @Doug, Thanks for the reply. I read the info on the link you provided, as well as a couple articles in the Rockford Newspaper archives.

    I have to laugh at their expectation that a Burlington Coat Factory would “lure” tenants back into the dead mall. Are these developers serious when they approve these press releases? It would take a lot more than the addition of a Burlington Coat Factory, a new loading dock (for no stores?) and some new skylights and paint to make this a viable shopping destination again.

    Mirror, mirror on the wall,
    Who’s the ugliest mall of all?

    I think Machesney just might have the ugliest mall exterior of any mall I’ve visited. The entrances look like “owls heads”, with their tin rooflines coming to a distinct peak in the front above each door. Do you see it? The rest of the mall exterior looks cold and kind of creepy.

    I hope they can turn this sows ear back into a silk purse. It would be great if it could turn around.

  72. @no more mall :(,

    Kudos on the interior pics! Sad to see it in this condition but glad for the opportunity to do so.

    They’re sure taking their sweet time with the “de-malling”.

  73. @Ellen, yes I remember World Bazar. Used to have one at Cherryvale too. I remember after seeing an Indiana Jones movie at Machesney Theaters(which I later managed) and pretending I was him and that they were all valuable antiques….lol

  74. @Ellen, yes I remember World Bazar. Used to have one at Cherryvale too. I remember after seeing an Indiana Jones movie at Machesney Theaters(which I later managed) and pretending I was him and that they were all valuable antiques….lol

  75. @D Hill, I thought that place was called Moloney’s or something like that.

  76. i am actually looking for pictures or video of the old arcade there, iirc it was named” the electronic exoerience” and it was right across from the movie theater. if anybody has some contact me mikeage2 at a o l d o t c o m

  77. The final big loss was Kerosotes. Whenever we went to the movies, we went to Machesney Park. That was the place with the best movies in the Rockford area in the 1990s. The first Showplace in the Rockford area was built in 1997. A very large percentage of their mall shoppers were movie goers, especially the demographic (Gen X and XY, then) most likely to frequent those smaller stores.

  78. The last movie that I saw there was Jurassic Park 3 in late July 2001.

  79. @Stateline resident, That’s AMC theatres now. Not that it matters much, just saying.

  80. @Todd,

    I know exactly what you are talking about. I was the Assistant Manager (1998-2002) for the Radio Shack, which was right next door to Shoe Sensation. It got so bad at my store we used to dub it “Rent-A-Shack”. People definitely learned how to abuse the system. I really don’t miss the job much, but to those of us that work at that mall it was like a small community.

  81. I worked at the United Artist Theaters at Machesney mall in 1992, and seeing these pictures bring back some fond memories. The mall was still very busy in 1992 and I use to go to Phar-Mor and rent VHS movies.

  82. @Matt from WI, your just about right the Kohl’s open in 82. I was the first female mall cop at the mall.

  83. I lived near the mall up until I was 17 (2005). I have so many memories there. That was the hangout place for kids/teenagers. Seeing the pictures brings back so many memories. The last movie I remember seeing there was Spiderman. I also remember there being a carousel in the middle of the mall at one point in time. One year Santa handed out mini boxes of cereal and oranges. Oh and I remember the Easter Bunny would always walk around. It’s so sad that a place with so many memories is gone 🙁

  84. Oh and the first movie I ever saw there was Pocahontas 🙂

  85. @no more mall :(, I used ti mow our lawn, earn $5 and then jump on my bike and ride to the mall and blow it all on the games there. I had two bikes stolen there but still good times playing video games. They had a Swiss Colony I liked too and Olga’s had some greek stuff to eat. The Pizza place next to the movies was ok too and did you ever get the huge sundae at the Last Straw when they had the ice cream spot next to the Pretzel place.

  86. Here’s one for y’all…before the mall was built, we frequented the A&W Root Beer stand that was the only establishment in the field, of the now mall area. This was early to mid 70’s.

  87. The first movie i ever saw was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and it was at the mall my gma lived by the mall on wilson ave when i would spend the night there i would sometimes walk there I miss the mall experience i had there TOY STORE, ARCADE, MOVIES, MUSIC STORE now all thats left is Cherryvale mall an ok mall but not MACHESNEY PARK MALL our kids will never have a mall expierience like that u could take 20 dollars and see a movie and still go shopping now 20 is just a movie and drink it SUCKS!!!!!!!!! MACHESNEY PARK MALL is missed

  88. The main reason Machesney Park Mall died a rather abrupt death was due widely to the demographics of the area and the ‘rif-raff’ that infested it in the mid to late-90’s. That, accompanied by poor retail revenue due to a lower-lower middle class income population circumstancing it that tend not to be ‘high-rollers’, If we examine the Dixie Square Mall in Harvey, IL, which gained notoriety from The Blues Brothers film scene, died due to high-crime in the area, attracting the bad-element, and demographics of the area. (Lots of Sec. 8 welfare residents/real low-income people.)

    Big, enclosed shopping malls cannot thrive and survive in these kind of environments, period. No matter how ‘pretty’ they may look inside or out. In fact, left-over Hurricane Ike funds were used to finally demolish the ruins a few years back. Incidentally, the police station is right next door to it. But, back in the late-70’s, shoppers were getting attacked and stabbed in the parking lot. So, why the hell would anyone in their right mind want to go shop there!?… (Not I!) I don’t give a damn what kind of stores are in there, I’m not going to make myself vulnerable by shopping somewhere I don’t feel safe.

    Machesney Park Mall was getting this way; and lots of trouble young people in it. Question: When you walk into a restaurant or a business and see a big group of young men who look like they want to jump and mug you inside, your gut instinct is to turn around and run as fast as you can right!?… (Well, there ya’ go!)

    The “Great Recession” has led to the closure of dozens upon dozens of enclosed malls that were in beautiful condition up to the point they were closed. In fact, there haven’t been any malls (excluding strip) built since 2006. People are not into them as much anymore for lots of reasons, including online shopping.

    Today, in many cities, youth don’t have a whole lot to do on weekends, so they naturally pack in enclosed malls. (a.k.a. “Teen mall rats”) They’re not there to shop, but just to hang and kill time w/ their friends. Not a real huge problem, but not-so-good things tend to happen when you get teens in large groups loitering. It also gives a bad appearance for those ‘real’ shoppers with ‘real’ money to spend. (Not just $10 between 7 teens in the food court or dollar store.) Besides, who wants a mall full of cheap dollar stores anyway!?…

    Finally, you have the immense cost of lighting, ventilating, cleaning, and maintaining enclosed malls and the staff to boot. (Even though low-paid staff as a general.) You need security too. (Lots of malls going to armed or taser and pepper spray toting security force due to mall shootings in recent years and criminal element attracted to the mall.)

    ~About me: BS in Homeland Security; Business Securities Certificate; 16 yrs. experience in private security/retail loss prevention sector, including mall security.

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