A Letter to the Editor: South Suburban Community Developments

Dear Editor: Chicago Sun Times
CC Author: John W. Fountain

MACK Companies CEO James “MACK” McClelland responds to Chicago Sun-Times opinion on south suburban community developments: Lincoln Mall dies after long illness

I am writing in response to the article “Lincoln Mall dies, long stood as a beacon of hope.” Written by John W. Fountain, published on the 23rd of January 2015.

After 42 years, Lincoln Mall, of Matteson, IL, joined the other nearly 15% of U.S. malls that Green Street Advisors, a RE & REIT analytics firm, believes will fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next 10 years.


Change is inevitable, embrace it and your hope will come. The end of a community center piece like the one Lincoln Mall was for the community of Matteson is an event that will affect the entire village. I happen to think our time is better served discussing what development has a fighting chance to bring stability and commerce back to the center of Matteson, rather then picking out cemetery plots and floral arrangements.

Malls are closing around the United States and it’s an indicator of buyer behavior changes – not consumer loyalty. The virus that killed Lincoln Mall wasn’t a cancer of complacency, but rather an incurable spread of the world wide web. Real Estate experts, developers and finance leaders are all telling us the same thing; “malls are dying.” Now here is where we, the community members of Matteson and others facing this problem can be proactive. What we need to do is get creative; understand the experience that a mall created, the internet tools that replaced it and what new experiences we can build in a space that will foster commerce.

Leaders and developers in areas like Atlanta have managed to analyze their demographics and make use of mall centers by creating ‘community experience’ centers like Plaza Fiesta, that meet a demand set by a booming Hispanic population. What are Matteson’s demographics telling us? What are consumers traveling past the village borders for? There is a demand – and with the right group of city planners, financers and developers that demand can be met.

42 years is nothing to raise your nose at, Lincoln Mall provided a needed retail demand to the Matteson community for years. No crimes of disloyalty or consumerism have been committed here, but we must all work to ensure that the cancer of complacency does not set in for Matteson village developers. As an investor in the community, I look forward to seeing a development come in her place that will aid in growth and prosperity for the businesses and homeowners of Matteson.