Gurnee Mills to get $5 million facelift

Posted April 28, 2010 at 1:45 p.m.

Tribune file photo

The silos will be removed from Gurnee Mills in phase three of renovations thate begin this year.

By Sandra M. Jones |
Gurnee Mills is getting a $5 million facelift.

The sprawling suburban shopping mall is upgrading its design in a
three-year plan aimed at replacing the mall’s agricultural theme,
created when it was built among farm fields 19 years ago, with a more
sophisticated design, said Randy Ebertowski, the mall’s general manager.
A sales tax sharing agreement with the village of Gurnee, which dates
to 1998 and runs through 2012, will fund the makeover.

The renovation comes as competition heats up among outlet malls nationwide in the wake of the recession and retailers from Sears to Bloomingdales expand the number of outlet stores.

The first phase, slated to begin this summer, will cost $1.4 million to update restrooms with granite counter tops, ceramic floors, stainless-steel partitions and nursing stations. The second phase will focus on entrance doors, landscaping and lighting at a cost of $1.8 million. The final phase will remove the farm-style silos at the entrances, replace the floors and fixtures at the food court and update signage inside and outside.

“The center will be 20 years old next year, and it’s time to renovate,” said Ebertowski. “If we have a better looking center, we are able to attract more customers.”

Gurnee Mills went through a $10 million renovation in 2003 when it added more space and transformed into a mix of outlets and value-priced stores. The 1.8 million-square-foot mall has 200 stores and attracts 23 million visitors a year.

The mall, owned by Simon Property Group, has a 95.7 percent occupancy rate, according to Indianapolis-based Simon’s annual report.

The renovation plan was first reported by the Daily Herald.



  1. tex April 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I can live with the Silos – - repave the darned parking lots!!!!!

  2. Spike April 28, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    They can remodel all they want, but JCPenney’s outlet was the biggest reason to go there, and without it, it’s kind of a pointless trip.
    Most of the other stores now are full price ones, not outlets.

  3. Anne L. April 28, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    I dislike Gurnee Mills very much and do not shop there. It is full of crappy stores and there are no real deals. Plus it is a haven for gang bangers. I’ll keep going to Pleasant Prairie or ordering on line.

  4. Rick A April 28, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Wow… the RAMPANT racism is absolutely DISGUSTING in here. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

  5. eBob April 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    As someone who lives in Gurnee, I have to say that I avoid this place like the plague. The only times I go there is if there is something I need from a specific store in the mall. I get in and get out. The place is dangerous with a lot of trashy people and gangbangers loitering about.
    Personally, I’ve never cared for the decor. It always seemed dark and dingy — almost as if it was built in the 1970s rather than in the 1990s. I think that the agricultural theme is apropos given that on weekends it seem that every hick and hillbilly with a 500 mile radius descends upon the mall. They probably feel right at home.
    The JCPenny outlet seemed pretty useless to me. I usually couldn’t find what I needed and the regular JCPenny at Hawthorn sells the stuff at the same price anyway.

  6. JPC April 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Repave the parking lots. Fix the wooden floors that are warped from water damage. Maybe then I would consider shopping here, instead of going to Pleasant Prairie and keeping my tax dollars in Illinois. @Randy Ebertowski, Gurnee Mill’s general manager: Fix what is important…than do the face-lift. I do not know anyone that lives in the northern suburbs that enjoys going to Gurnee Mill.

  7. Sarah April 28, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I hope they also fix the pothole parking lots.
    They need to get rid of all the useless kiosks with foreigners asking us if they can ask us a question or asking us if we want to try hand cream.
    They also need to get rid of all the useless stores & bring in some decent stores. the only good stores there are Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond & that one store that sells all kinds of kitchenware.
    And they need to to turn down the music in the food courts. Customers are going deaf.

  8. Genevieve April 28, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    The whole mall is overrun with foreigners.

  9. J April 28, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Wow, the comments left with this article are insane.

  10. Genevieve April 28, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Don’t be in denial. Unfortunately, the comments are true. Pretending they aren’t true doesn’t do any good. Or the mall.

  11. Leon April 28, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I love Off Saks. It’s where I buy my expensive designer jeans for half off. I don’t go into anyother store.

  12. goingbust April 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Gangbangers? Does someone have a Gangbanger radar that I don’t know about?
    Anyway, Gurnee Mills is great IMHO. It’s all about American Excess, and I mean that in a good way. It has:
    Not one, but two food course!
    A handgun range in the Bass Pro plus a one-lane rifle range! And I think an archery range too! Plus gun sales!
    Laser Tag!
    An ice rink!
    Indoor amusement rides!
    A freaking zoo!
    A tooth whitening kiosk with no privacy where you can watch 17 year old girls whitening their teeth. :)
    And I really like the shop that does the dipped apples. Not so happy about some of the pushy kiosk dealers, especially the ones trying to sell “electronic cigarettes”.
    Anyway, I suppose it is an acquired taste. It certainly fills up with people on the weekends, though. I think it’s great.

  13. Suzanne April 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Who in their right mind would go to a mall kiosk to get their teeth whitened by some teenager hired off the street??? LOL. I guess someone wearing a white jacket fools some people into believing they’re a real hygienist or something. What idiots.

  14. Tracey April 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm

    Good. Now maybe I will go more often. They should model it after Woodbury Commons in New York.

  15. JKG April 28, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    eBob said it perfectly. I live near the mall and avoid it too. A quick targeted ingress and an immediate retreat is the best policy. $1.4 million bathrooms aren’t going to help and if I’m not mistaken, all the silos were torn down 3 years ago.

  16. Karen April 28, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Gee, I wonder if Village of Gurnee would give me a tax break so I could do some much needed improvements on my home? I’d love to have granite countertops in my bathrooms! Guess our taxes will be going up again.

  17. Innocent III April 28, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    But the basic problem is, the concept of an “outlet mall” got stale a long time ago.
    By now, everyone knows that the stuff sold in the brand-name outlet stores is cheaper, made-for-the-outlet store stuff.
    Even if you’re just buying it for the brand name, apparently those who know and care about such things can tell what’s the real stuff and what’s made-for-the-outlet-store stuff.
    Gurnee Mills needs a refreshed concept more than it needs refreshed bathrooms.

  18. Simon Sez April 28, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    Simon would much rather spend their $$ buying up competitors rather than fixing parking lots . . . they’re well known in the shopping center industry as maintenance-avoiders and deferrers.

  19. Roadlife April 28, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    They had outhouses????

  20. Joe April 28, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Sarah and Genevieve, considering that your family were foreigners to this land like everyone else that came to this country, then why are you even at Gurnee Mills? Hypocrites!!!

  21. Genevieve April 28, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Oh, please!!! Don’t start that crap.

  22. Genevieve April 28, 2010 at 6:35 pm


  23. Jen G April 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    Gurnee Mills is a dump and always will be. It is full of gross people and bad stores. I live nearby and never ever go there and don’t know anyone who would ever shop at the mills.

  24. Thomas April 28, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Gurnee what ? Gurnee Mills Mall ? Where is that ? Is that where all the foreigners go ? I’m a native Chicagoan, I guess that’s why I don’t go there and most importantly, that’s why I don’t care!

  25. tapwater April 28, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    heaven forbid, FOREIGNERS! isn’t that what our country is made up of? i don’t really care for the kiosks, but i give credit to the people operating them trying to make a living. the “outlet” concept is really a big joke. if you notice, stores such as banana republic & gap actually make their clothes specifically for the outlet stores (the clothes are not leftover from past seasons). plus, the outlet prices aren’t any lower (if at all) than what you can find at normal stores. maybe with the exception of Saks outlet, the bulk of the stores aren’t worth the time.

  26. Suzanne April 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Tapwater, I agree with Genevieve. Those foreigners are annoying. They step in front of you & block you from moving & basically harass you. They get you coming & going. Sorry, I don’t give them credit for harassing people. I guess I like to be among a better class of people. To each his own. Have fun shopping at Gurnee Mills!

  27. jeff April 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    Gang bangers? In Gurnee Mills? I’ve lived in Gurnee before the mall was built and frequent it on a regular basis. I’ve never seen a gang banger here. Yes there are teenage kids here like in any suburban mall but it is very safe and the maple wood floors are great (easy on the feet) to walk on vs concrete in most malls.

  28. Mohawk April 28, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    A sales tax sharing agreement with the village will pay for this? That’s just another way of saying taxpayers will pay for this. Gurnee handed the shopping center 20 years of sales tax breaks. This means everyone in the village — including competing shopping centers — pays their full share of taxes as well as part of the share that should be paid by Gurnee Mills.

  29. Joe April 28, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    What’s the matter Genevieve? Can’t admit that your family emigrated to this country at some point in time and were considered foreigners? You mean to tell me that your family, after they emigrated into this country as foreigners didn’t earn a hard day’s pay when they got off the boat? C’mon….kumbaya! LMAO

  30. CLS1212 April 28, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    Joe, Obviously you need to find something better to do than harass people on message boards for their personal opinions. Let me guess, you think you cannot be traced for doing that either. No one is anonymous online.

  31. CLS1212 April 28, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    By the way Joe….emigrated is not a word. It is spelled immigrated.

  32. Joe April 28, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    CLS1212, Joe is my real first name. I take it that CLS1212 is not?

  33. Joe April 28, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    CLS1212, I agree everyone is entitled to their personal opinions and the stance I took is my personal opinion on the subject matter.

  34. Joe April 28, 2010 at 9:03 pm

    BTW, CLS1212, look up the work emigrated in the dictionary and get back to me.