During the recent creation of the Westfield Old Orchard Business District, the possibility of mall ownership changes or joint ventures were contemplated and addressed by Village leaders in the agreement between the Village of Skokie and Westfield Old Orchard.
“The possibility always exists for significant properties to change ownership, as has historically been the case with Westfield Old Orchard mall that has had numerous owners over the years. Currently, as was initially announced in 2021 and recently reported in the media, the United States properties within the Global Westfield portfolio continue to be the subject of a possible sale,” said Village Manager John Lockerby. “The Village carefully crafted the new Business District agreement so that all obligations transfer to any possible new ownership and no tax money is transferred until actual improvements are completed. The Village and Westfield – or Westfield’s successor - will continue to work together to ensure the mall’s transformation, achieving an even stronger flagship property status. On a national level, the mall industry is evolving to respond to e-commerce competition and the ongoing impact of changing pandemic conditions. The commitment to ensure Old Orchard’s relevance remains a top priority.”
Regardless of official ownership, the vision for the mall, including the Business District, remains unchanged. Plans are already underway for site improvements to heighten Westfield Old Orchard’s status as a best-in-class shopping destination for Chicago’s North Shore and beyond. Several new restaurant and retail concepts are coming soon to Westfield Old Orchard, including Tory Burch, Bar Siena, The Capital Grille, Alo Yoga, Reset by Therabody, Molly’s Cupcakes, L’Occitane, Marine Layer, Pie Five and Rod & Gunn, with more exciting announcements expected in coming months and throughout 2022.
“Westfield and the Village of Skokie have jointly developed a plan to secure a thriving future for the shopping center and we are fully committed to bringing new uses and diverse offerings, as well as enhancing the customer experience to create the best-in-class destination in the Chicagoland area,” said Dominic Lowe, U.S. Chief Operating Officer, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield. “In the coming months, we will announce new first-to-market retail and entertainment destinations that will transform the future of the center and the local community.”
The Village of Skokie’s innovative partnership with the Westfield Old Orchard ownership, as evidenced by the new Business District, ensures significant investments for the mall’s future success and insulates the property from the challenges experienced by so many retail shopping destinations. In addition, since the Business District was approved, Westfield has initiated conversations and meetings to explore the possibility of bringing new uses, including residential development, to the mall.
Westfield Old Orchard is important to the region and community in many ways, including as a popular destination and resource to reduce the tax burden on other Skokie property tax payers. Westfield’s annual property tax bill exceeds $14 million, of which approximately six percent, or $850,000, goes to the Village of Skokie. The remaining $13 million in funds go to Skokie school districts, Park District, Library and other taxing bodies. Regardless of mall ownership, 100 percent of the investments made possible by the Business District will stay in Skokie, ensuring that Old Orchard remains a viable economic engine for many years to come.