The Plaza appears to be on the front burner again with a new group eyeing the property for redevelopment.
This time, it’s DeBartolo Development LLC, the Tampa, FL-based inventor of the enclosed regional shopping center which intends to pump $111 million into the aging shopping mall, that includes demolishing many of the existing stores.
Once a Mecca for Southland shoppers, the 1952-era shopping center at 95th Street and Western Avenue has fallen on hard times and is a shell of its former greatness. Last year, a redevelopment deal fell apart when GMX and the Janko Group couldn’t get the necessary financing to purchase the Plaza from its owners.
Jay Adams, a development officer for DeBartolo, apprised Evergreen Park Village Board members of the firm’s progress in negotiating a deal to purchase the property at their Monday meeting.
“We first looked at this project about two years ago,” Adams said. “It’s in pretty bad shape but an interesting project. We’ve been very successful in being able to control the site and to now go after the kind of tenants this community would embrace.”
Adams said that DeBartolo hoped to close a deal in July, making the development group the Plaza’s new owner. DeBartolo is already in the hunt for quality retail tenants.
“When dealing with potential tenants there is a lot of confidentiality,” Adams said. “We are in conversation with Dick’s Sporting Goods and several other retailers on the same level of quality and newness we think this market needs.”
What makes Evergreen Park especially appealing is its close proximity to Chicago, yet still being surrounded by suburbia, Adams added.
“There are homes here and people are already established—retailers love that,” he said.
Plans are to turn the property into an open-air “human life center” with a big box anchor tenant surrounded by smaller stores. Offices and residences are also open for consideration.
Adams said the Plaza has a lot in common with a redeveloped retail center in Hawaii, the Ka Makana Alii shopping mall
Should DeBartolo be able to close the deal Adams said that demolition would move quickly, with the first stores opening within 21 to 24 months once construction is completed.
DeBartolo is currently in negotiation with Carson Pirie Scott, the Plaza’s long-time anchor tenant. Carson’s is staying but would close during demolition and construction.
“[Carson’s] would be closing that store and we’ll be tearing that building down,” Adams explained.
The plan is to deliver a parcel to Carson’s for its own construction, concurrent with the main construction.
“They can do it better than we can,” Adams said. “They what the stores look like and they have all their special vendors.”
Applebee’s would also remain in its current building. So far, the Plaza’s Lenscrafters is the only store that has expressed interest in being part of the new lineup.
The remaining stores would like to stay open for one last holiday season, “but we hope to be in demolition by December,” Adams said.
DeBartolo is also trying to set up meetings to see if Planet Fitness would like to stay, possibly enhancing the building’s exterior consistent with the new development's design.
Adams said his firm was also interviewing potential general contractors and said DeBartolo would use local union labor during all phases of demolition and construction.
“We had a group here last year giving us a nice speech,” Trustee Mark Marzullo said. “Money walks and BS talks. Is this a done deal?
DeBartolo was working with a bank and very close to finalizing a deal, Adams said.
“We know what tenants are paying in this market,” he continued. “There are a lot of moving parts to getting tenant agreements to pay the rents we need.”
“We’re praying for you,” Marzullo said.
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