How our lives changed 

Walcott Trust & Savings Bank
101 W Bryant St
PO Box 108
Walcott, IA 52773

Mississippi Laser
7700 47 St
Milan, IL 61264

Longs Carpet
4200 11 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Roth Pump
Box 4330
Rock Island, IL 61201

Hughes Telephone
1117 Blackhawk Rd
Rock Island, IL 61201

ASAP Equipment
4730 44 St

Taylor Garages
Airport Rd
Milan, IL 61264

Michael Warner, Attorney
1600 4th Ave, Suite 410
Rock Island, IL 61201

Kansas City Life
5019 34 Ave B
Moline, IL 61265

Dr. Romeo
1705 2nd Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

Morton Building
Highway 6
Atkinson, IL

Pathway Hospice
500 42
Rock Island, IL 61201

QC Carbide
1510 17 St
East Moline, IL 61244

Lyss Chiropractic
5500 30 Ave
Moline, IL 61201

Metro MRI
550 15 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Litton Life Support
2734 Hickory Grove Rd
PO Box 4508
Davenport, IA 52808

Spencer Bros. Disposal
New Windsor, IL

Mane Designs
Viola, IL

Quad-Cities Graduate Studies Center
639 38 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

Taylor Freezers 1885 Earhart Dr
Sandwich IL 60548

Milan Surplus
I-280 Exit 15
Milan, IL 61264

Metro MRI
550 15 Ave
Moline, IL 61265

Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home Inc.
614 Main St
Davenport, 52803

Ward Chiropractic
1802 W Locust St
Davenport, IA 52804

Cannon Precision Manufacturing
PO Box 289
4th and Washington St
Keithsburg, IL 61442

Associated Environmental Management Services Inc
PO Box 586
1701 13 St
Viola, IL 61486

Edward Jones
1632 5th Avenue
Moline, IL 61265

Downtown Davenport Association
102 S. Harrison St.
Davenport, IA 52801

Donald J. McNeil, D.D.S.
1030 41st Street
Moline, IL 61265

Valley Dental Center
Dr. Margarida R. Laub
Route 6, Coal Valley, IL

Sylvan Learning Center
1035 Lincoln Road
Bettendorf, IA

Alleman Development Office
1103 40 St
Rock Island, IL 61201

American Bank of Rock Island
3730 18 Ave
Rock Island, IL 61201

Just 25 years ago, malls changed it all

By Jonathan Turner, Dispatch/Argus Staff writer
Click to view larger image
1991 file photo
It took several years of dealing and site preparation, but on Feb. 27, 1974, SouthPark Mall opened in Moline, just north of the Rock River. Since then the mall has spurred much growth in the area, including to itself; major additions were completed in 1978 and 1990. Today, the mall is about 927,000 square feet, almost double the 500,000 it opened with in 1974, and just slightly smaller than its sister mall, NorthPark in Davenport. This 1991 view shows the mall from its northeast corner; 27th Street is in the foreground, the Rock River runs across the back.

MOLINE -- Twenty-five years ago this month, SouthPark Mall first opened its doors. Shopping in the Illinois Quad-Cities hasn't been the same since.

There were strip shopping centers in the Quad-Cities in the 1960s, such as King Plaza in Moline and Duck Creek Plaza in Bettendorf, but the first enclosed mall -- NorthPark, in Davenport -- didn't open until 1973.

The mall concept ``was a unique new method of retailing in communities,'' Realtor John Corelis said. ``They'd come in with a group of stores as the focal point, and bring along a lot of shops to fill in around them.''

Mr. Corelis negotiated the land deal that established Petersen Harned Von Maur as an anchor epartment store at SouthPark. The mall opened Feb. 27, 1974 with three department stores and about 80 specialty stores, totaling 500,000 square feet.

Today the mall boasts 927,000 square feet, five department stores, and 140 specialty stores. In 1996 SouthPark attracted 9 million shoppers, resulting in sales of more than $206 million. That represented nearly one-third of all taxable retail sales in Moline at the time.

The history of the enclosed shopping mall really began in 1956 with the opening of a center in Edina, Minn., according to William Kowinski, author of ``The Malling of America.''

``They saw that people went there not only to make specific purchases, but just to be there,'' he wrote. ``They saw that two department stores didn't destroy each other with competition; they just brought more people to the mall, which created more business for everyone.''

Mall synergy -- the idea that a wide variety of shops would draw more customers -- displaced the fear of competition, Mr. Kowinski wrote.

``They were basically circumventing problems of the downtowns, making them 12-month-out-of-the-year facilities,'' Mr. Corelis said. ``They've grown to be more than just a place to shop, It's a social life for lots of people.''

Riding the national trend of mall-building, SouthPark was born out of two events in Moline in the early 1960s: construction of the South Slope wastewater-treatment plant, and the founding of the Heritage subdivision, with nearly 100 acres of homes.

With sewer service available and hundreds of families starting to move nearby, developers saw a potential retail boom, according to former Moline land-development manager Harold Swanson.

Des Moines-based General Management Corp. -- later named General Growth -- chose to build its two new Quad-Cities malls in large, undeveloped areas along major traffic corridors, Mr. Corelis said.

NorthPark was developed at the juncture of Kimberly Road, Brady Street and Northwest Boulevard; Interstate 80 was a couple miles north.

SouthPark grew between 16th and 27th streets north of the Rock River, near Interstate 74's John Deere Road exit. ``It wasn't heavily populated; that was all farmland,'' Mr. Corelis said.

It took eight years of planning and construction to bring the Moline mall to life, starting with the sale of 47 acres to General Management Corp. in 1966. The original cost of the shopping center was estimated at $400,000; the mall carried a $12 million price tag upon completion.

It took an estimated half-million cubic yards to fill swampland at the construction site.

Both malls had very difficult site conditions, Mr. Corelis said. ``Tremendous site work had to be done to make them into viable locations.''

A 1,000-seat movie theater, the Parkway, was the first phase of SouthPark's development, opening in 1970 along 27th Street. It was torn down by the late '80s as theater chains looked to bigger sites that could hold many screens, according to SouthPark marketing director Lysa Hegland.

Duck Creek and NorthPark malls also had had twin cinemas within their buildings; both had also closed by the late '80s.

When it opened, SouthPark was about 20,000 square feet bigger than NorthPark. That edge is reversed today, with Davenport's 993,000-square-foot mall ahead by 66,000 square feet.

By 1970, the four-lane John Deere Road had been completed from Moline's 70th Street west to 16th Street, ending practically at SouthPark's door. The mall spurred other commercial development along 16th, but major retail development along John Deere Road -- newly designated Illinois 5 -- didn't happen for years.

Former city planning director Joe Reckard said there was no clamor to develop the other farm fields and wetlands along John Deere Road. ``The mall took a tremendous need away,'' he said.

But SouthPark ``got the business community's attention,'' he said. Bud Mills located Mills Chevrolet at 16th and Deere Road in the late 1960s because of the mall development.

Other early businesses along 16th were Wendy's and Toys 'R' Us, Mr. Corelis said.

The economic downturn in the early 1980s delayed growth along the John Deere Road corridor, as did long-delayed highway construction. The road wasn't continued west of 16th Street until 1989, when it was extended to 38th Street in Rock Island. It soon was widened to six lanes west of Interstate 74.

Major additions to SouthPark opened in 1978, with J.C. Penney and 25 other shops, and in 1990, with Sears and the food court among 32 new stores. NorthPark did its big expansion in 1981, with about 300,000 square feet, including Sears and Von Maur.

Malls have thrived because lots of shopping can be done at one place, under one roof, Ms. Hegland said. ``You want to get all your shopping done as quick as you can. If you just have one day, you want to get everything done, especially if the weather is bad.''

For a little more than a year, NorthPark and SouthPark have been owned by Indianapolis-based Simon DeBartolo Group, which manages 230 malls across the country. ``We're trying to make them all feel the same, so you know what you're going to get,'' SouthPark manager Matt McCombs said.

``People really look at the cleanliness of a mall, the safety, the easy access. Those things are all really important.''

Echoing nationwide trends, SouthPark may become home to more service-oriented businesses, including professional and medical offices and a post office, Mr. McCombs said. Contrary to popular opinion, local malls have many independently owned businesses, he said.

Some malls have added grocery components, but that is not likely at SouthPark, with Eagle and Wal-Mart nearby on John Deere Road, Ms. Hegland said.

NorthPark celebrated its 25th anniversary on weekends last September with prize drawings, entertainment, and special themed activities. Ms. Hegland said SouthPark also will wait until September to mark its silver jubilee, dovetailing with the back-to-school season.

Copyright 1999, Moline Dispatch Publishing Co.