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'Dead' Malls in the Chicago Suburbs Are Nothing New

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Last week, it was announced that Lincoln Mall in suburban Matteson would close after the holiday season, due to its operator's inability to keep the mall properly maintained and staffed. However, the 700,000 square foot shopping center is not alone, as it joins a growing list of dead malls in the greater Chicagoland area. Chicago photographer Katherine Hodges has been documenting so-called dead malls and other abandoned sites for several years, and has visited numerous shopping centers throughout the Midwest that have either completely shuttered, or are on the verge of closing for good.

Hodges shoots many other sites beyond malls that are on death row, however the images of humungous vacant shopping centers speak for themselves. One mall that Hodges has highlighted — The Plaza in Evergreen Park — was the first modern shopping mall in the Chicago area, having originally opened in 1952. It closed last summer. The Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles, another mall featured in Hodges' series, is currently the focus of a major redevelopment effort that could potentially revive the shopping center.

With big empty spaces comes big problems. Some shopping centers have been successful in turning things around, and others — not so much (Lincoln Mall for example). However, with these vacant spaces come new opportunities, and in the case of Lincoln Mall, there have already been some ideas floated for a possible redevelopment of the property. It's still a bit early to speculate exactly what will happen to the site, but at least for now, it's certain that the mall will join the area's growing shopping center dead pool.

The Plaza

Charlestowne Mall

·Katherine Hodges' photostream [Flickr]
·Yet Another Large Suburban Shopping Center Bites the Dust [Curbed Chicago]
·Photographer Tackles Region's Growing Supply of 'Dead' Malls [Curbed Chicago]