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February 12, 2020 2:15 PM, EST

Amazon Pays $50 Million for Former Old Chicago Amusement Park, Mall

Amazon displays signage at CES 2020 in Las Vegas on Jan. 8.(Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg News)

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CHICAGO — Online retail giant Amazon.com Inc. has paid more than $50 million for the former site of Old Chicago, an indoor amusement park and mall in Bolingbrook that predated massive experiential shopping centers like Minnesota’s Mall of America.

Amazon’s purchase likely paves the way for the site to become the latest in an already vast network of Amazon distribution centers throughout the Chicago area.

Amazon’s redevelopment of the property would bring a 21st century use to a site best known for the short-lived heyday of Old Chicago, which opened to fanfare in 1975 but closed in 1980. The venue had amusement rides, circus performers and a concert venue, but it failed after running up costs and struggling to keep visitors coming back.

The massive Old Chicago structure featured a 16-story dome and was demolished in 1986.

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Seattle-based Amazon on Jan. 21 paid $50.5 million for the site, according to Will County property records.

The 119-acre site is along the east and west sides of Illinois Route 53, just south of Interstate 55. The site’s address is 200 Old Chicago Drive.

The seller was Atlanta-based Cox Automotive, which in November shut down the Manheim Arena Illinois auto auction center on the site. Cox laid off 223 workers and offered 170 employees jobs in south suburban Matteson.

CBRE broker Matt Ishikawa represented Cox in the sale.

Amazon declined to comment on its plans for the site but said in an email that the purchase “provides us with the flexibility to quickly respond to our future network needs.”

The Old Chicago parking lot, filled with visitors in July 1978.

The Old Chicago parking lot in July 1978. (Charles Knoblock/Associated Press)

With relatively easy access to interstates 55, 355, 80 and 88, the land is well located for a massive distribution center.

The e-commerce company has opened more than 20 warehouse facilities in Illinois within the past four years, according to supply chain and logistics consulting firm MWPVL International.

In January, the Tribune reported Amazon was planning a distribution center on another site formerly known for entertainment. Amazon leased a three-building, 623,000-square-foot distribution center on the former site of the Maywood Park horse track just west of the city in Melrose Park.

The former Old Chicago site is about three times larger.

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