Sunday, August 15, 1999

Forest Fair Mall chronology

        • 1986: Construction of the 1.4 million-square-foot Forest Fair Mall begins — a $250 million investment by original owner Hooker Corp. and its LJ Hooker Developments.

        • October 1987: Hooker agrees to buy controlling interest in the B. Altman department-store chain. The move comes a week after acquiring most of retailer Sakowitz Inc. and six months after buying Bonwit Teller.

        • July 1988: Forest Fair Mall opens its east wing. Leasing complications force a delay of the western “fashion” wing opening.

        • March 1989: Forest Fair Mall opens entirely with almost 200 stores, including Parisian, Elder-Beerman, Bonwit Teller, Bigg's and B. Altman. Many retail experts say it is doomed.

        • June 1989: LJ Hooker puts Forest Fair on the block.

        • July 1989: George Herscu, the Australian tycoon and owner of LJ Hooker parent Hooker Corp., files for bankruptcy protection.

        • September 1989: LJ Hooker files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, claiming debts of $1.7 billion. Also filing are B. Altman and Bonwit Teller. Later, Forest Fair and Sakowitz join for protection.

        • October 1990: Bonwit Teller closes.

        • November 1990: B. Altman, Sakowitz close.

        • January 1991: Hooker's seven lenders take over the mall as FFM Limited Partnership.

        • Summer 1991: Mall occupancy dips to 56 percent.

        • May 1992: Forest Fair is converted into the “Malls at Forest Fair,” a concept that divides the Y-shaped center into four retail themes: fashion, lifestyle, value and entertainment.

        • August 1993: Following an $8 million expansion, a restaurant and bar complex called the Festival at Forest Fair open as the entertainment segment in former Bonwit Teller.

        • September 1994: Kohl's opens in the mall's final anchor position, the former B. Altman. The addition boosts mall occupancy to 75 percent.

        • February 1995: FFM Limited places the mall on the market.

        • April 1996: Miami-based Gator Forest Park Partners Ltd. acquires Forest Fair from FFM and pledges to invest $10 million in the mall over the next three years.

        • October 1997: Berean Christian Stores signs a 10-year, $2.3 million lease with Forest Fair. The 21,250-square-foot deal is the largest in at least two years for the mall.

        • June 1998: Parisian leaves the mall. In the same month, the center says it has a deal with National Amusements Inc. to open a first-run multiplex movie theater, part of a program to redirect the mall.

        • October 1998: Guitar Center opens at the mall across from Bigg's.

        • June 1999: Construction crews break ground outside the mall for a free-standing Roadhouse Grill steakhouse, its fourth restaurant.

        • July 1999: Forest Fair signs Bass Pro Shops, Burlington Coat Factory and Bed, Bath & Beyond as anchors.

Forest Fair Mall redefines itself
Bass Pro Shops bring outdoors into the store

- Forest Fair Mall chronology
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