Oak Lawn eyeing major redevelopment

  • Written by Dermot Connolly

chuck e. cheese photo 4-12

                                                              Photo by Dermot Connolly

Oak Lawn officials are looking forward to working with the development group that recently purchased the 15-acre retail property vacated by Kmart and Chuck E. Cheese's in the 4100 block of West 95th Street.


Oak Lawn officials are looking forward to working with the new owners of the 15-acre former home of Kmart and Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant located in the 4100 block of West 95th Street, which was recently purchased by a Chicago development team.

Kimco Realty sold the property known as the Oak Lawn Shopping Center, in the 4100 block of 95th Street, west of Pulaski Road, to Hubbard Street Group and Keeler Real Estate LLC. The deal was finalized on April 2. The purchase price was reportedly more than $10 million, but that could not be confirmed.

Kmart anchored the strip mall until the store closed last November as part of a mass liquidation of Kmart stores nationwide. Chuck E. Cheese’s, located in the same property, also closed in November as part of an agreement with the village to leave by the end of the year. The restaurant and children’s entertainment venue had been plagued with security problems for years.

Two of the three remaining businesses in the main building on the site -- Pep Boys and Lumber Liquidators -- may relocate elsewhere in Oak Lawn. The third business is Payless ShoeSource, which is expected to close. Another Payless store is already located in the village at 6356 W. 95th St. A free-standing Chase Bank branch and Longhorn Steakhouse on the property are expected to remain.

Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen said village officials have been following the sale process closely.

“Oak Lawn is proactive on all redevelopment initiatives. We have been in constant contact from the decision by Kimco to sell this property, their Realtor CBE, and all serious interested buyers,” said Deetjen, noting that there were seven prospective buyers until the Hubbard Street Group formally won the bid.

The Hubbard Street Group has built numerous upscale residential developments throughout the Chicago area, as well as commercial developments, such as Nordstrom Rack at 1551 N. Sheffield Ave., North Avenue Collection, at 938 W. North Ave., and the Skokie Commons shopping center.

“All were professionals and we are looking forward to working with Hubbard on this site. They are cognizant of the village’s 95th Street Corridor Plan, which is official village policy,” said Deetjen.

The 95th Street Corridor Plan, adopted in 2014, is available on the village’s website. It lays out design plans for the entire length of 95th Street running through Oak Lawn, from Pulaski Road to Harlem Avenue.

“I would like to see a tear-down (of the main building) and a complete new development on that site,” said Trustee Terry Vorderer (4th), whose district includes the property.

“It’s located across the street from a very busy Target, Home Depot and other businesses, so retail will be very important. I’m looking for a mixed-use type development. I would like to see a car dealership, and I hear a small one is interested,” said the trustee.

“I would only support a residential development if it was for those ages 55 and older, because we really need that in Oak Lawn,” Vorderer said. “I’d like it to be located close to 96th and Keeler,” at the southwest corner of the property. “There are already a lot of condos and apartments there, and it is close to public transportation, on Pulaski.”

Vorderer said the close proximity of the site to the recently expanded Advocate Christ Medical Center, at 4440 W. 95th St., and other medical offices along 95th Street, also might make the site attractive for a senior residence.

“That hospital is an economic engine of the village. It employs a lot of people,” he said.

“I’ve been in touch with Mayor Sandra Bury and (Deetjen), and I am ready to sit down with the developers to talk about all this,” said Vorderer.