Jason Lindquist (jlindquist) wrote,
Jason Lindquist

More things I didn't know

Randhurst was closed down and demolished last August.

I'm not surprised... the last time I was there, it was a ghost town. Half the stores inside were empty, and the future was grim. Most of the anchor stores had gone out of business, through either bankruptcy or mergers. Newer big-box retailers had locations nearby. It's still a very vibrant retail area, but everything's moved into strips. But the indoor regional mall concept seems to be going through something of a decline. Northbrook Court, Hawthorne Center, Woodfield, and Old Orchard are doing well, partly by moving more and more upscale. Deerbrook and Town & Country became strip malls. Golf Mill is somehow surviving. Lakehurst was consumed by the economic ghetto that is Waukegan.

Randhurst is another piece of my childhood, and that of a lot of other suburbanites. I'm a little too young to remember the ice rink that used to occupy the southeast corner along Kensington Road, where the Home Depot now stands. But I remember it as the Child World toy store they turned it into. Oddly, they built a new entrance on the northwest side of the building, but left the original entryway at the center of the north face in place. I don't know if it was bricked up inside, but even the ice rink signage was left up for quite a while. My dad did a job in what used to be a Golden Bear pancake house, just off the northeast corner of the mall. Things were still a little hazardous when I was off of school, so I spent most of my day with him playing in the arcade next door. General Cinemas originally had a 4-screen theater around where Borders is now, at the corner of Rand and Elmhurst. That was knocked down a while ago, and AMC built a new 16-screen theater on the north side. For a long time, there was a small K-Mart inside, under the chain's original name, Kresge's.

I remember when the upper level inside was all offices. The basement level had a few stores, both were always mysterious, because we never went up or down there. There was a Hot Sam for pretzels, and an Aladdin's Castle I think I got to go into all of twice. Both were near the entrance above the underground loading dock entrance. I remember when they built the restaurant court into the second level of the center, and into one of the adjacent balconies, replacing those offices. I don't recall what options you had for more than snacks before then. At the start of Randhurst's decline, they opened an Ultrazone inside. Steve, Hoos, and Weiss frequented it, as did I when I was home. But it went under due to some God-awful management decisions... when you charge $10-$12 a game, you can NOT sell a summer unlimited-play pass for $50. They instantly killed their revenue stream with that. It's a real shame, they had a fantastic game layout, and the best equipment the Zone folks ever built. (Equipment which was shipped to San Diego afterwards.)

There's some still photos mid-demolition up. Jon Revelle produced a photo montage set to "Wish You Were Here"... it's positively depressing. It shows a place I'll always remember as busy and populated, as empty and ghoulishly abandoned--but oddly, NOT decrepit. Everything still looks neat and clean, like they were still trying to bring in new tenants, right up to the end. Lincoln Square in Urbana looked really sketchy in its later days. And Deerbrook, and Town & Country were very dim, maintenance hadn't kept up with blown lighting tubes. The Daily Herald got video of the central dome coming down. They cut the vertical supports with torches, then pulled the whole thing over with cables.

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