Gurnee, IL–Published reports indicate that some village officials of Gurnee, IL, a far northern suburb of Chicago, are concerned about the future success of one of its prized attractions, Gurnee Mills Mall. The shopping center is located at the intersection of Interstate 94 and Grand Avenue (Illinois 132) in Lake County. It is positioned midway between the Chicago and Milwaukee markets.

Gurnee also is home to Six Flags Great America. The area has spawned a number of hotels/motels to take advantage of the tourism synergy that the two major attractions have spawned. Hence, Gurnee Mills remains one of Illinois’ top tourist sites.

Gurnee officials such as Mayor Richard Welton, Trustee Donald Rudny and Village Administrator James Hayner recently met in Nashville, TN to tour one of Mills Corp.’s newest mega malls, Opry Mills, which opened in May. This particular mall is adjacent to a hotel/convention center connected to one of Nashville’s top attractions, the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry Mills mall includes the Gibson Guitar Bluegrass Showcase and NASCAR Silicon Motor Speedway.

Basically, Gurnee officials would like to keep Gurnee Mills competitive. Lakehurst Mall in Waukegan, just to the east of Gurnee adjacent to Lake Michigan, has struggled in recent years.

Mills Corp. of Arlington, VA is the developer of the Mills mall concept, with 11 Mills across the country now. Gurnee Mills opened in 1991. The 1.5 million-sf mall has over 200 manufacturer and retail outlet stores, anchored by a 133,000-sf Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World that includes a 30,000 gallon fresh water aquarium, an archery and shooting range, fishing demonstrations and a line of Tracker boats on display inside the store. Other anchor tenants include a 20-screen Marcus Cinema complex and two international food courts with over 30 eateries.

Gurnee Mills Mall general manager Peg Lafond tells that she was not able at this time to address any long-term plans of the magnitude that Gurnee officials might like to see. However, she said that the mall would soon announce some new tenants and programs planned for 2001.

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