Life for Brickyard Mall
Urban Retailing Tenets Guide Redevelopment
For a quarter century, the Brickyard Mall symbolized the
no-nonsense traits of mall merchandising in a middle-class
neighborhood on Chicago's Northwest Side.
Anchor tenants were in the midline to discount range: J.C.
Penney, Montgomery Ward and Kmart stores and a Jewel-Osco
supermarket. Countless specialty retailers were available
in enclosed buildings with temperature-controlled environments.
And, a sea of concrete ensured a parking space for practically
But the 49-acre site at Diversey and Narragansett streets
was in need of a revamp when all the anchors but Jewel-Osco
closed shop, said Michelle Panovich, principal for Oakbrook
Terrace, Ill.-based Mid-America Asset Management Inc., the
"Enclosed malls are not doing particularly well,"
she said. "Today's lifestyle requires people to get in
and out of the stores they want to go to, so a new layout
really makes the difference."
Reflecting Urban Flavor
Key design ideas influenced partly by city guidelines on
urban retailing are steering construction on the $110 million
project. The principles aim at ensuring the mall's suitability
to its location and its feasibility after reopening in October
as The Brickyard.
For instance, some of the 11 new structures, especially those
with multiple tenants, will be located near Narragansett and
"They're friendly buildings from the street, instead
of being in a suburban-type of layout in which the buildings
are pushed to the back of the site and all the parking is
right up to the street," Panovich added.
Masonry and cast stone will dress all sides of the new buildings
for a solid look that reflects the neighborhood. Storefront
windows and doors will be on multiple facades.
Only surface parking will be available. Gone will be the deck
parking atop the existing Jewel-Osco and the parking spaces
near streets that required a hike to reach the stores.
Large-format structures will be used for the new anchors in
the open-air, "power center" format. There will
be a 143,700-sq.-ft. Lowe's home-improvement store, a 143,100-sq.-ft.
Target department store, a replacement 64,565-sq.-ft. Jewel-Osco
and a 30,000-sq.-ft. Marshalls home fashions outlet.
"It's one-stop shopping," Panovich said. She added
that the new anchors are "going to be the best draw,
and they're going to bring the most consistent shopper to
55 Stores Coming
About 55 stores are expected to open, and there will also
be restaurants and 2,300 parking spaces.
The first stores will open in March and others will follow
from time to time until project completion, Panovich said.
Some spaces in buildings have already been turned over to
vendors so fixtures can be installed.
The total mall area, about 600,000 sq. ft., represents a decrease
of about 280,000 sq. ft. from the previous shopping center,
but the shrinkage is mostly attributable to the elimination
of the deck parking.
The mall will retain its two tiers, with units on both the
upper and lower levels, and a retaining wall between them.
Roads will connect the levels, which differ in elevation by
about 30 ft.
(The multiple heights are explained by a landfill that had
once occupied the site, said John Zoerner, senior project
manager for Mid-America. The landfill was used to plug a pit
from still earlier that had produced clay for bricks.)
The existing Jewel-Osco has stayed open during the project
until the replacement store is completed. Utility switchovers
allowed the supermarket to remain open.
Some of the same team members had the same experience on a
different project, the Ford City Mall on Chicago's South Side.
"On Ford City, we had to keep it running with tenants
[during a project], so I knew they understood how to make
that occur," Panovich said.
The utility lines that fed the previous buildings were dated.
The systems were removed or crushed to make way for the new
lines, said Sandra Reinert, project vice president with Chicago-based
Pepper Construction, the general contractor.
No dirt could be removed from the site during the excavation
phase principally because of the landfill. Taking away the
soil and having it go through remediation would have been
Moved dirt was put in piles and sorted, and large debris,
such as concrete chunks, could be taken away, Reinert said.
About 500,000 cu. yds. of earth was moved, said Paul Bates,
project manager with Rosemont, Ill.-based Spaceco Inc., the
Deep foundations, like caissons, might have resulted in too
many spoils leaving the site, Mid-America's Zoerner said.
In addition, the infill material that had been placed on the
site previous to the construction of the original mall might
have lacked the firmness to handle typical buildings.
Dynamic compaction was the solution. Compressing the soil
ensures that material remains on the site and the buildings
have enough support.
A crane was brought in, and the machine dropped a steel weight
to pack the soil densely under buildings and retaining walls.
Standard footings were used. The site had also been compacted
when the original mall was built.
"There were no settlement cracks on it," Reinert
said. "So it did support those buildings."
Phasing the Project
The demolition and utility switchovers were phased so that
the existing Jewel-Osco could stay open.
A surface tunnel, which connected Narragansett and Diversey
for deliveries, was demolished in multiple phases. Previously,
trucks came in one end and exited the other, but after the
tunnel was partly demolished, trucks entered and turned around
inside to exit.
The Kmart near Narragansett was knocked down early, but the
fire-pump room nearby was kept because it maintained the sprinkler
system. A new pump room was built to serve the existing Jewel-Osco
adjacent to Diversey, allowing the old pump room to later
be pulled down.
The new supermarket is expected to open in March so the existing
one can be razed, the last scrap of the old Brickyard Mall.