04 February 2008

A Sad State of Affairs

Monday-Thursday, after I drop off my daughter at her preschool, I head to the gym (unless I'm scheduled to work in her classroom). My gym is located in a mall. I have very fond memories of this mall - it's where, as a child, I did my Christmas shopping with my dad or played on/inside the huge stone whale and brass bears by the main entrance while waiting for my mom to finish her shopping. As a teenager, if I didn't have to work at my job at my hometown's pizzeria, I would hang out either there or at Record Swap on Green Street.

So you can imagine the disappointment I felt when I saw water cascading down the wall of the front entrance with nothing to stop it except for a sign that said "Wet Floor". There were also buckets strategically placed throughout the mall to catch water from the leaking roof. One can see the water damage on the ceiling. Lincoln Square Village has certainly seen better days. It used to be a bustling place. When it opened in 1964, it was the first enclosed shopping mall in the state of Illinois and was anchored first by Robeson's (and later Bergner's), TG & Y drug store, Record Service, International Galleries, Art Mart and a wide variety of other stores. Only a small fraction remain. The Radio Shack, Record Service and TG & Y are long gone. Art Mart and International Galleries are the mall's main draw, I think, as far as shopping goes. It's sad to see this building fall into such disrepair. It's like this little mall, once the only gig in town, is hanging on by a thread. CAUTION: Old Lady I-remember-when remark on the way - I remember when Market Place was built. I could see it go up from across the cornfield from my dad's backyard. Once it opened I believe that was the death knell for Lincoln Square. Don't get me wrong. I love Lincoln Square. I just wish more businesses felt the same. But I don't think the residents of this community are willing to let it go, thank God. There is a sense of inclusion at Lincoln Square that one certainly doesn't get at Market Place. Lincoln Square Village invites you to linger. You are a welcome and vital part of the Village.

So I invite you to check out Lincoln Square, if you haven't already. Piato, in the food court, has great food (as does Art Mart and Milo's). Buy some Illini wear or support your local high school's teams (though I think Brownfield Sports is a little heavy-handed on the pro-Chief stuff). If we support those shops, maybe others will be tempted to rent space there and make Lincoln Square what it once was, a hub of Urbana and the surrounding area - a nice alternative to North Prospect and Market Place.

Just make sure to watch for puddles.


Leeanthro said...

I miss that whale. I wish my children could play in it. On hot, hot summer days, the stone felt so cool.

My mom worked at Jumer's for a few years and when we didn't have childcare in the summer, she would get us an empty room to watch TV and we would roam the mall.

Another "now and then" difference. We were safe to roam around on our own.

I don't see how most businesses can stay in business in that mall.

Flessor's caramels are fantastic and I saw a sign that they are now selling their ice cream. Ooh, yummy!

Lisa B-K said...

Common Ground Food Co-op is coming to LSV in July - that's definitely going to liven things up a bit.