‘Live, work, play’ redevelopment targeted for Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles; many existing stores would remain
by BRIAN NADIG
The proposed mixed-use redevelopment of the 62-year-old Golf Mill Shopping Center in Niles would include many of its existing stores and a new water mill feature, similar to the one that stood for decades as the center’s trademark.
Conceptual renderings and a tentative site plan recently were released for the project, following Niles Mayor George Alpogianis’ state of the village address. The center is bordered by Milwaukee Avenue on the east, Golf Road on the north, Greenwood Avenue on the west and Church Street on the south.
The redevelopment would be based on a private-public partnership agreement between the village and the center’s owner, the Florida-based Sterling Organization, Niles director of economic development John Melaniphy III said. Tax increment financing subsidies would be used to help finance the project, and rezoning the site as a planned unit development, which may allow more flexibility, could be considered, he said.
The village is hoping that the first phase of the redevelopment would be completed by late 2023 or early 2024, Melaniphy said. A hotel and new entertainment-related tenants could be part of future phases, but for now AMC Theaters, which currently operates at the center, has chosen not to be part of the redevelopment, he said.
The site plan shows that JC Penney, Ross Dress For Less, Burlington, Panera Bread, Chick-fil-A, Target, Gordon Food Service Store and XSport Fitness, which is located inside a former movie theater, would be among the existing tenants that remain at the center.
The site plan also shows an approximately 300-unit residential complex with a pool located near the center’s southwest corner at Greenwood and Church.
In addition, the center’s existing circular office tower would be demolished as part of the project, but its sign would be preserved, Melaniphy said.
Renderings also show several decorative features, including a children’s play area, a pavilion and outdoor seating for restaurants.
The overall goal is to create a successful “live, work, play environment,” Melaniphy said of the project’s town center concept.
There had been some hope that the center’s former wheel-shaped water mill could be found and brought back, but it appears that a new one would have to be installed, Melaniphy said.
For a long time Sears was Golf Mill’s anchor tenant, and after the center was converted into an indoor mall, shoppers had to walk through Sears in order to get from one end of the mall to the other. The Sears store closed in late 2018.
The center also was once home to the Mill Run Theater, which featured a revolving stage in the middle of the theater, and many of the top entertainers of the 1960s and 1970s performed there. The performers included the Jackson Five, Temptations, Tom Jones, Wayne Newton, Bob Newhart, Ray Charles, Spinners, O’Jays and Paul Anka.