Hilldale Mall Looks to Reinvent and Reactivate Movie Theater Space

Posted by on Oct 31, 2022 in News | 0 comments

Hilldale Mall Looks to Reinvent and Reactivate Movie Theater Space


Hilldale’s AMC movie theater (formerly Sundance) will be shuttered and the 35,000-square-foot building converted to retail space – opening the corner up to new uses and activation.

Brian Munson, principal urban planner with Vandewalle & Associates, explains: “Right now, if you walk along Heather Crest, it’s the side of a theater. There’s nothing there. We want to really change that so we can replace that with storefronts and possibly explore some second-story retail. The goal is really to activate that side of the street so that you no longer have a blank wall.”

The closing of the AMC 6 Madison at Hilldale will allow WS Development to better integrate the building into a plan that includes a large restaurant with outdoor seating to the west, and to the south a flexible open space for concerts, ice skating and other events across Heather Crest that will be surrounded with two stories of retail and commercial space.

Hilldale has seen many waves of reinvention since its first opening in the 1960s – this is just one more.

For much of its life, the shopping center was an enclosed mall, but major changes began in the early 2000s and continued when Chicago-based Joseph Freed and Associates purchased the property in 2004 and pumped millions of dollars into redevelopment projects that began converting it to an open-air mall. Parking ramps were built along with a hardware store, a Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. and, in 2011, a 150,000-square-foot Target.

But in 2012, Joseph Freed sold the shopping center to Massachusetts-based WS Development. The purchase led in a new wave of improvements for the property, including a $15 million, 53,000-square-foot redevelopment between Macy’s and Metcalfe’s Market. Two years later, WS lured the Apple Store from West Towne Mall to help anchor an outdoor plaza area that included more restaurant space, a new location for University Book Store and an L.L. Bean store.

Additional housing comes to Hilldale.

Other redevelopment in the Hill Farms Neighborhood includes new housing. At Hilldale itself, there are plans for 100 apartment units in a five-story building along Vernon Boulevard. That project is part of the redevelopment to the south of the existing shopping center and on land that is used for parking and for years was home to a BMO Harris Bank, said Chris Boyce, development manager for WS Development, which owns Hilldale. 

Boyce and Munson both took part last week in the annual meeting of the Hill Farms Neighborhood Association, which was held virtually but attracted more than 60 viewers.


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