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Focus Development Chosen to Build 400 Luxury Apartments at Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Mall in Skokie

Focus Development Chosen to Build 400 Luxury Apartments at Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Mall in Skokie
Traded Media
by Traded MediaShare

The Westfield Old Orchard shopping mall in suburban Chicago is set to undergo a major conversion. Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, the mall's owner, has partnered with local firm Focus Development to construct approximately 400 luxury apartments on the site of a vacant department store. This ambitious project is part of the mall's revitalization efforts, aiming to create a thriving and vibrant destination for residents, shoppers, diners, and entertainment seekers alike.

The move to integrate residential spaces within suburban malls reflects a broader trend among developers seeking to breathe new life into these retail centers. Focus Development, a Chicago-based company, has been actively involved in similar ventures before. Notably, they recently embarked on the second phase of building over 600 apartments at Aurora's Fox Valley Mall. Additionally, their 311-unit apartment complex at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills opened its doors in June, marking a successful venture into suburban downtown residential development.

With over three decades of experience, Focus Development understands the potential for suburban malls to evolve into mini city centers, catering to the needs and desires of surrounding communities. CEO Tim Anderson shares the vision of creating vibrant suburban hubs, where a diverse range of amenities and activities coexist harmoniously.

Construction for the luxury apartments at Old Orchard is scheduled to begin in 2025. The project will involve the demolition of the vacant Bloomingdale's store located on the northwest corner of the property. The apartments are expected to welcome their first residents in early 2027, marking a significant milestone in the mall's transformation journey. Focus Development will navigate the village's planned development approval process later this year, ensuring a seamless transition from vision to reality.

Securing Capital for Project Financing

Focus and URW are on a mission to seize new opportunities and secure external capital for their latest project, according to Anderson. Drawing on their success in attracting investment for previous mall redevelopment endeavors across North America, the mall owner is now eyeing the potential of a multifamily development. Anderson emphasized the critical uniqueness of this asset, substantiating the demand for such housing options. With their sights set on unleashing the full potential of this project, Focus and URW are ready to embark on the next phase of innovative development.

Malls Embrace the Rise of Mixed-Use Living

In a bid to revitalize underperforming malls, developers are turning to a rather surprising solution - adding housing stock. This bold move comes at a time when the demand for apartments in the Chicago area is soaring.

According to the Chicago office of Integra Realty Resources, net monthly rent at apartment buildings in suburban Chicago witnessed a remarkable 5.4% year-over-year increase in the fourth quarter of 2023. Recognizing this lucrative opportunity, mall owners are eager to tap into the growing demand for residential spaces.

One such mall embracing this transformation is Old Orchard. Rather than struggling to turn things around, this visionary project aims to enhance what is already there. By blending retail, dining, leisure options, and now housing, Old Orchard is poised to become a true epitome of a larger mixed-use community.

In the past year alone, more than a dozen tenants have flocked to Old Orchard, enticed by its progressive approach. As residents eagerly await the opening of esteemed brands like Arhaus and Zara, the upcoming arrival of the interactive mini-golf experience, Puttshack, adds an exciting new dimension to the mall's former Lord & Taylor store.

Indeed, this ambitious venture not only meets the demands of a changing market but also breathes new life into the very essence of suburban living. By embracing the concept of mixed-use developments, malls like Old Orchard are reshaping our perception of what it means to live, work, and play in the suburbs.

Published: February 14, 2024

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