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Carson's will get the ball rolling for Marketplace

  • Written by Joe Boyle

With demolition of The Plaza nearly complete, the dawn of a new era for Evergreen Park begins with the grand opening of the new Carson’s scheduled to take place on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said the new Carson’s, which is located along 98th Street a block west of Western Avenue, will be open and running on Sept. 14 and will immediately replace the old Carson’s.

The original store faces Western Avenue while the new two-story structure can be found right behind it, less than a block away to the southwest. The two stores will share the same parking for just over a month.

“When the new Carson’s opens, the old Carson’s will close,” said Sexton. “The old Carson’s will be demolished beginning in January.”

Workers were busy last Thursday at the new Carson’s as they prepare the facility for next month’s grand opening. A few shelves have been brought in as ladders and tools can be found on both floors. Sexton did mention that a kids clothing department will be found on the second floor.

When the new Carson’s officially opens its doors, this will officially mark the first phase of the new Evergreen Marketplace, which replaces the once iconic Plaza, designed by Arthur Rubloff. The Plaza opened in 1952 and became a huge success during the prosperous 1950s leading into the 1960s. It was originally an open-air shopping center that became one of the first enclosed malls in 1966.

“This was Arthur Rubloff’s baby,” recalls Sexton, who frequently visited and shopped at The Plaza over the years. “But it had its time. I’m excited about what’s happening now. Everything is going well and they are ahead of schedule.”

Large piles of concrete are essentially what are left of where The Plaza was located. Besides the old Carson’s, the other lone facility in this area that dates back to the days of The Plaza would be an existing tower. The facility is next door to the old Carson’s and served as office space for The Plaza. Sexton said that this will eventually be replaced by more restaurants.

The new Carson’s facility, which is 120,470 square feet, stands alone but construction will begin soon for more retail businesses. Next door to the new Carson’s will be DSW, a Petco, Five Below, T.J. Max, Ulta, Rally House, 365 by Whole Foods Market, Carter Oshkosh and Dress Barn. A Dick’s Sporting Goods Store will round out these series of stores and borders Campbell Avenue.

Dick’s Sporting Goods will be 49,327 square feet. The 365 by Whole Foods is scheduled to be 30,000 square feet. TJ Max will be 21,000 square feet. Room is available for another business.

Ample parking will be available in front of this series of businesses, according to Sexton. A series of restaurants will be found along Western Avenue from 98th Street south to 95th Street north. The eateries will be set back with new landscaping facing Western Avenue, said Sexton.

Sexton has suggested putting in a fountain near where the restaurants will be.

“People driving past will see it and say, ‘what is going on over there? Let’s check it out.’ I think it can draw more interest,” said Sexton.

Sexton is encouraged by this portion of the project for a number of reasons.

“You have over 400,000 square feet of retail,” said Sexton. “The one thing that is not mentioned is that many of these people working here live right around here. We are putting people to work. This is union labor out there.”

Along with the restaurants facing Western Avenue, a Visionworks and an AT&T facility will also be included.

The Applebee’s restaurant is the one outlet eatery from the days of The Plaza. The restaurant will remain at its current location along Western Avenue and near 95th Street. It will be joined by a Potbelly’s restaurant and Naf Naf Grill. Between AT&T to the south and the eateries to the north will be an outdoor seating area of 314 square feet, according to the Marketplace plans.

West of those restaurants remains Planet Fitness, located at the northern end of the old Plaza that faces 95th Street. Retail space of 36,032 is available for more retailers to join Planet Fitness.

If construction plans continue as expected, 365 by Whole Foods and Five Below will open next May. Carter’s Oshkosh, Ulta and TJ Maxx will open in next June, if the construction plans remain ahead of schedule.

“This will be great for the village and we also draw people from the Beverly area in Chicago,” added Sexton. “I just can’t wait to hear those cash registers ring.”