Crain pain: EP Mayor Sexton not buying published report about failed Plaza sale

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton isn’t ready to pull the plug on plans for a lifestyle center at the site of the Plaza despite reports that a potential deal to develop the property has fallen through.


Crain’s Chicago Business last Tuesday reported that a potential deal with Tampa-based DeBartelo group collapsed and the foreclosure process has restarted.

DeBartolo's loan purchase was the first step the firm needed to ultimately take over, demolish and redevelop the mall at 95th Street and Western Avenue.

News of the failed deal came just days after Sexton said at the annual State of the Village report that plans for the mall are “inching closer.”

Sexton remained optimistic Monday and said the news is unfounded.

“The jury is still out,” Sexton said. I’m very confident. I fully expect we’re going to get something done.”

S.L. Van der Zanden, CEO of Resolutions, a Chicago-based company that's serving as a court-appointed receiver for the mall during the foreclosure process, told Crain’s the deal fell through.

Additionally, Ben Wineman, principal at Mid-America Real Estate, the Oak Brook-based brokerage selling the Plaza, described the market for the mall as “a wide open playing field.”

But Sexton insists that a deal remains in the works.

“The story is not factual. You can’t believe everything you read,” Sexton told the Reporter.

Sexton reiterated his stance at Monday night’s village board meeting.

“The deal at the Plaza is alive and well and you’re hearing it from me,” Sexton said.

He also chided Crain’s for not speaking to him before publishing last week’s story.

“They didn’t really want to hear the truth so they wrote what they wanted,” he said. “It’s not dead. That’s from me.”

The mayor added that he doesn’t know why Mid-America Real Estate advanced the notion that the deal collapsed.

“I really don’t know what their motive is,” he said. “They haven’t had the decency to call here.”

Sexton was quick to point out that the village’s memorandum of understanding regarding a redevelopment plan with UP Development, a real estate firm based in Nashville, does not expire until the end of January.

Under the terms of the memo, the village said it would consider providing UP with around $10 million in funds raised through a new bonding district on the property, provide a sale-tax reimbursement to the firm and issue other incentives, Crain’s reported.

DeBartolo Development last year said it would buy a defaulted loan on the 733,986-square-foot mall.

The Plaza has just four tenants and more than 458,000 square feet of empty, enclosed mall space and is owned by a group of investors led by Kansas City, Mo.-based Provo Group, which is said to be cooperating with the foreclosure, Chicago Real Estate Daily reported.

In a statement, DeBartolo said it didn’t acquire the loan because it is busy working on other projects and did not want to take on additional regional shopping centers, according to Crain’s.

The Plaza currently has just four tenants: a Carson Pirie Scott department store, a Planet Fitness gym, an Applebee's restaurant and an Enterprise car rental office.