Carson's thrives, Plaza project progresses

  • Written by Joe Boyle

plaza construction photo 5-11

Photo by Joe Boyle

Retail stores are being built alongside the new Carson’s beginning at 9700 S. Western Ave. for the new Evergreen Plaza. The stores, many of which will open this summer, will include DSW, Petco, TJ Maxx and Dick’s Sporting Goods Store.


The new Carson’s, the anchor for the development of the new Evergreen Park Plaza, has exceeded expectations while plans for additional retail shops and restaurants are on schedule, according to Mayor James Sexton.

“They are rocking,” Sexton said about the new Carson’s at 9700 S. Western Ave. “Business is doing very well there. I have heard they are very happy.”

Specific figures on sales were not available, but staff at Carson’s said that business has been doing well despite ongoing construction along the old Plaza site. The old Carson’s building, which was located across the parking lot from the new facility, has been torn down. The only remnant of the old structure, the last symbol of the old Plaza, was a portion of a wall that was visible as of last Thursday.

The Evergreen Park Village Board approved special-use permits during their most recent meeting for outdoor seating at three restaurants. The outdoor seating was approved for Potbelly Sandwich Restaurant, Raising Cane’s and Mod Pizza.

The demolition of the old Carson’s was expected to occur this spring. It did not receive the fanfare of the first phase of the demolition when the old Montgomery Ward’s building was leveled. Sexton is pleased because this means that soon the parking lot will be expanded and cleaned up to make way for the new retail stores that are being built alongside Carson’s.

Additional retail stores that will be joining Carson’s will be DSW, Petco, Five Below, TJ Maxx, Ulta, Rally House, 365, Carter’s Oshkosh, Dress Barn and Dick’s Sporting Goods. The stores will extend as far west as Campbell Avenue.

The old Carson’s was the last store that was still operating that goes back to the early days of the old Evergreen Plaza. The store actually remained open until last September, when the new Carson’s held its grand opening.

Along with Cane’s, Potbelly and Mod, Rusty Taco will also be built along Western Avenue. Naf Naf Grill will eventually open between Potbelly and Mod. Outdoor seating is also scheduled to be available at Naf Naf Grill. Applebee’s will continue to operate from an outlet lot nearest 95th Street. Applebee’s had already been in operation for a number of years while the old Plaza was still open.

“It’s all going along to the timetable,” said Sexton. “A lot of these stores could be up in June and July.”

Sexton is also optimistic about the prospects for the old Evergreen Plaza Office Tower at 9730 S. Western Ave. Anthony Ruh, of RSA Properties in Merrionette Park, provided a few options for the Evergreen Park Village Board last fall. His one suggestion is to level the existing garage and have a ground level lot aligned and integrated with the new Evergreen Plaza parking lot. The space could provide locations for one or two retail lots, according to Ruh.

A second alternative would be to build a new multi-level parking garage and incorporate one additional retail development along the street at the sidewalk level. Ruh said this would create attractive sight lines and landscaping. Ruh would need the cooperation of the village to implement this plan.

The final option would be a simple renovation of the existing garage and building in accordance with current building codes for rehabilitation projects. Ruh, who has been in the construction business for 25 years, added that this would include some exterior improvements and alterations. Ruh added that this was not his preferred option.

Sexton admits that he likes Ruh’s ideas and there is room for discussion. The opportunity to provide more parking and to make improvements on the old tower would be a plus, the Evergreen Park mayor said.

“He has a lot of good ideas,” Sexton said. “This guy has a nice plan. He did buy (the office tower) out of foreclosure and he wants to make improvements. Some new parking space would be great.”