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‘Vision’ of Macy’s now a reality

Following Wednesday morning ribbcutting hundreds pack innew Macy’s store Gurnee Mills mall. .  | TinJohanssfor Sun-Times Media

Following a Wednesday morning ribbon cutting, hundreds pack into the new Macy’s store at Gurnee Mills mall. . | Tina Johansson for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 27, 2013 6:12AM

Gurnee Mayor Kristina Kovarik called the opening of the $20 million Macy’s at Gurnee Mills the result of “vision, guts and hard work.”

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday marking the grand opening of the 140,000-square-foot store, the mayor, donning a flaming red dress, couldn’t emphasize more when she said repeatedly, “I’m excited.”

“We’ve come a long way. We took a tremendous vision and Simon Property Group (owner of Gurnee Mills) took a lot of guts,” she told a gathering audience under a baking sun.

As she spoke, hundreds of shoppers waited patiently on a line that stretched around the sprawling glistening white building facing Grand Avenue. A marching band stood by as if to drum up support for the gala event.

“Anything you do is always a gamble. This was a huge gamble and investment,” she continued, mentioning that Gurnee had issued a $10 million bond for the infrastructure of the new store.

The opening of the long-waited Macy’s underlined that the gamble has begun to pay off.

Gurnee’s sales tax revenue, by the mayor’s estimate, will be increased by a $1 million a year.

The added revenue, she said, will create value for the community, ensuring it with better municipal services like public safety for its residents.

Graciously, Kovarik gave credit to former long-time Mayor Richard Welton, for his vision in bringing Gurnee Mills to the village. Weldon, who was mayor from 1973-2001, was present at the ceremony. Gurnee Mills, reputed as one of the largest outlet malls in the country, opened in 1991.

Welton, who is on the board of the Gurnee Economic Commission, said he was proud to see the evolution of Gurnee Mills from a discount mall to a “hybrid” mall with many full-priced stores like the new Macy’s.

The transformation, he said, means the mall will cater to a full spectrum of shoppers, from discount hunters to upscale buyers and those in between.

Gregg Goodman, president of the Mills division of Simon Property Group, said Simon has made a multi-million-dollar investment in building the Macy’s store. He said the company will continue to upgrade the 21-year-old mall with new amenities.

Kristen Cox, Macy’s executive vice president who is regional director of stores, said,

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