Chicago’s Newest Empty Mall

It wasn’t that long ago that Chicago Place decided it couldn’t make a go of it as an urban mall and decided to reinvent itself. Since then, the city’s retail landscape hasn’t gotten any better. In fact, there are dozens and dozens of premier retail locations at the heart of the city from Oak Street to the Michigan Avenue corridor to State Street and beyond that are sitting vacant.

So while much has been made of Block37’s retail woes, and the retail reformation at Chicago Place, and speculation about the future of urban retailing in the Windy City, guess what hasn’t been getting much attention — the empty mall at the base of the Trump International Hotel and Tower (401 North Wabash Street).

It was able to fly under the radar of scrutiny mostly because it’s been under construction for years. Every time a responsible publication would inquire about potential stores, Trump flacks would wax eloquent about premier names that would populate the riverside plaza and make it a shopping destination. And always, they would stop just short of actually naming names. Any name.

Now that the construction on the plaza mall appears to be mostly done, how much longer can the Trump people dodge the elephant in the store: Is anyone coming to the Trump mall, and if so, who are they and when?

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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