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Mall owner denies plans to reopen in the suburbs

Simon Property Group said its instructions to tenants were misinterpreted.

Orland Square mall in Orland Park.
Simon Property Group

Is the nation’s largest shopping mall owner, Simon Property Group, planning to open malls soon regardless of government orders that most stores stay shut? Emphatically not, Simon said late Thursday, shooting down media reports.

The Indianapolis-based company said it had publicly posted instructions to tenants about preparing for a possible reopening. Spokeswoman Ali Slocum said those instructions were interpreted as announcing mall reopenings. They have been pulled from Simon’s website.

Orland Park Patch carried a story that said Simon’s Chicago-area malls would be back in business May 31. No such decision has been made, Slocum said. “Simon will comply with all state and local orders and only reopen properties when permitted to do so,” she said.

The Patch story linked to company announcements that have been taken down. Similarly, the Rockland/Westchester Journal News in upstate New York said Simon had announced, then retracted, plans of reopenings. It was all a “kerfuffle,” Slocum said.

The issue was brought up to Gov. J.B. Pritzker at his Thursday press briefing about the coronavirus. “Indoor venues with hundreds and hundreds of people who will be walking together — that’s an extraordinarily difficult circumstance under the epidemiological recommendations here. So that’s something that will have to happen over the course of months and not in the immediate next phase,” Pritzker said.

The governor’s stay-at-home order that closes nonessential businesses runs through May 30. While he has outlined a five-phase plan for reopening the economy, there has been no indication of whether the current phase will be extended.

In the Chicago area, Simon owns Gurnee Mills in Gurnee, Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora and Orland Square in Orland Park.