Amazon is paying $50 million to take over the historic site of a once-beloved Chicago amusement park and mall

old chicago

AP Photo/Charles Knoblock

Old Chicago in 1978.

  • Amazon has paid $50 million for the 116-acre site of Old Chicago, a once-beloved amusement park and megamall in Chicago, The Chicago Tribune reported.
  • For the e-commerce giant, the purchase points to a rising trend of buying up abandoned malls and entertainment spaces and repurposing them as business facilities.
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Amazon is taking over the historic site of the Old Chicago amusement park and megamall for a whopping $50 million, The Chicago Tribune reported this week.

Amazon purchased the 119-acre space from current owner Cox Automotive at the end of January, according to documents obtained by the Tribune. Located in Bolingbrook, a southwest suburb of Chicago, Old Chicago was known as a trailblazer in combining retail and entertainment at a staggering scale, ultimately paving the way for the Mall of America and American Dream.
Though Amazon has yet to share its plans for the site, if recent purchases are any indication, it's likely to become a fulfillment or customer service center. In February 2019, Amazon bought the 695,383-square-foot location of the abandoned Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio, part of a redevelopment the company dubbed "Project Carney."

Meanwhile, Amazon has opened more than 20 warehouses in the state of Illinois alone, and in January it leased a distribution center on the site of the Maywood Park horse track in western Chicago, according to the Tribune.

An Amazon representative did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for additional information on its plans, but told the Chicago Tribune that the site "provides us with the flexibility to quickly respond to our future network needs."

Old Chicago opened in 1975 with a 16-story dome that featured 215 stores, a handful of theme park rides, a concert venue, and circus performers. However, within just a matter of a few years, management started to struggle to keep up with the cost of maintaining the space.

Increased competition from the opening of a nearby Six Flags, paired with troubling moments like the death of a trapeze artist during a performance, caused attendance to drop, according to The Chicago Tribune. It was offiicially closed in March 1980. Exclusive FREE Report: 30 Big Tech Predictions for 2020 by Business Insider Intelligence