REI plans to relocate the company’s Anchorage store to Midtown Mall and the company’s Lincoln Park store to a larger, two-story location on the banks of the Chicago River’s North Branch. Both moves will take place in early 2019.
The Anchorage store will be moving from its current location in the Northern Lights Center to a completely refreshed space with an open layout in the newly remodeled Midtown Mall, formerly known as the Mall at Sears. REI will occupy the former Carrs-Safeway location, which is currently being remodeled. The 50,000 square-foot space will offer increased parking for cars, indoor parking for bikes and better access to the Seward Highway for customers on their way to Denali National Park or the Kenai Peninsula.
“REI has been in Anchorage for nearly 40 years, and we have continued to grow as this community has grown. We’ve undergone numerous expansions in our current space and are excited to move to a location that can further support our commitment to life outdoors for Alaskans and all of our visiting adventurers,” said Mike Herzog, REI Anchorage store manager, who has more than 30 years with the co-op. “We were instrumental in helping rebuild and improve the Spenard neighborhood, and much of the community here has grown around us. Our goal is to do the same through our new location in the Midtown Mall.”
REI Anchorage was just the co-op’s fifth store in the U.S. when it opened in 1980.
Over the last 40 years, the co-op has invested in the Anchorage outdoor community. REI stewardship grants helped build the Flattop Mountain Trail, expand the city’s bike trail system and make the Spenard neighborhood more bike and pedestrian-friendly. In addition, REI has partnerships with the Friends of the Eagle River Nature Center, Singletrack Advocates and Alaska Geographic. In 2017, REI invested a total of $76,000 in the Alaska outdoor community.
The Lincoln Park store will move to a larger, two-story location on the banks of the Chicago River’s North Branch. The new 40,000-square-foot retail space will offer kayak and paddleboard rentals with direct access to the Chicago River, expanded assortments of quality outdoor gear and dedicated indoor parking. In addition, REI Lincoln Park will continue to offer a full-service bike, ski and snowboard shop and outdoor experiences with REI Outdoor School. With more than 161,000 active REI members in Chicago, the relocation to the Chicago Riverfront is part of the co-op’s mission to make the outdoors more accessible for all.
“REI is joining our efforts to invest in Chicago’s riverfront and transforming it into the city’s next recreational frontier,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Together we are building on the blueprint of Daniel Burnham’s Plan for Chicago, so that our children inherit a more active, more vibrant and more inclusive city than ever before.”
This builds on Mayor Emanuel’s comprehensive Building on Burnham plan to protect, preserve and invest in natural areas and recreational opportunities in neighborhoods across the city. Building on Burnham was inspired by renowned architect Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, which recommended a series of projects focused on the protection and preservation of parkland in Chicago’s neighborhoods. Developing recreation and supporting private investments along the Chicago River is a major component of Building on Burnham, under which 985 acres of parks have been acquired and 5.5 miles of waterfront have been developed.
The new store location is within a planned “wild mile” along the North Branch Canal that will include habitat improvements, pedestrian walkways, fishing stations, vegetative islands, viewing platforms, canoe launches and other amenities that cater to the public and wildlife. The enhancements are among the strategic goals of the “North Branch Framework Plan,” adopted by City Council last spring to revitalize the North Branch Industrial Corridor with a variety of land use, open space and transportation improvements.
REI first came to Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in 2008 and has continued to support the local outdoor community. This year, REI invested nearly $230,000 in Chicago-area nonprofits, including the Friends of the Chicago River, Urban Rivers and Friends of the Forest Preserves. REI also has stores in Northbrook (opened 2007) and Oakbrook Terrace (opened 2001).
The new REI location will be the co-op’s second waterfront space along the Chicago River.
“The relocation of our Lincoln Park store will help us better connect people in Chicago to a life outdoors,” said Mike Daurio, REI Lincoln Park store manager. “When complete, our new Lincoln Park location will be one of the co-op’s most exciting retail spaces. We’ll offer direct access to kayak and paddleboard adventures on the Chicago River and a wider selection of gear for hiking, biking and camping.