Photo by Joe Boyle
A tax-generating business district within the boundaries of the Chicago Ridge Mall has been approved to bring Dick’s Sporting Goods in to replace the vacated Carson’s.
By Dermot Connolly
The Chicago Ridge village officials have approved a targeted sales tax hike in order to boost redevelopment of the Chicago Ridge Mall.
The board established a tax-generating business district within the boundaries of the Chicago Ridge Mall as part of a redevelopment agreement to bring Dick’s Sporting Goods in to anchor the location vacated by Carson’s over two years ago.
Officials voted to create the district following a public hearing held before the regular village board meeting on July 7. The redevelopment agreement was made with the owners of the mall. Both meetings were held remotely via Zoom.
During the public hearing, village attorney Michael Stillman explained that the business district will include the main mall but not Chicago Ridge Commons to the south. Its exact boundaries are between 95 th and 99 th streets, from Ridgeland Avenue on the east to Newland Avenue to the west.
A 0.5 percent tax will be added to purchases made in the mall, according to the agreement with Starwood Retail Partners, the owners of the mall. The agreement calls for the village and Starwood to split the $10 million cost of redeveloping the former Carson’s site and make other mall improvements. The 0.5 percent tax will be used to pay off $4 million in municipal bonds being issued by the village.
The remaining $1 million will be raised by the village sharing the 2-percent home rule sales tax generated within the mall. “Usually, we get 2 cents (of every dollar spent) but we will give Starwood 1 cent of that,” said Stillman.
Technically, the business district could remain in place for as long as 23 years, but the agreement calls for it to be dissolved 270 days after the last payment is made on the debt. It is not expected to last more than a couple of years.
“ We would like you to know how much we appreciate the partnership and what an opportunity it is for everyone,” said Starwood attorney Donna Pugh.
“ We are pretty excited about it as well,” said Mayor Chuck Tokar.
Trustee Roger Meslar asked whether there is any chance that the current COVID-19 pandemic conditions could delay or otherwise affect the timetable for the plans?
“ It is not a worry. (Dick’s Sporting Goods) are really excited about this. It is all systems go, we don’t see that it is going to be an impediment to getting this store opened next summer,” said Vince Corno, the chief operating officer for Starwood.
Corno said Dick’s Sporting Goods is expected to finalize the lease agreement to take over 50,000 square feet of the Carson’s site within weeks.
“ Remodeling will begin this fall.,” Corno said. “It is a fast-track process on both sides.”
“ A lot of people are excited about it. But I don’t think anyone is more excited than myself or the members of the board,” said Tokar.
The board also handled several other business-related matters at the meeting. These included reducing the allowable number of cannabis dispensaries in the village from three to one, at least temporarily.
Tokar said multiple national cannabis dispensary companies have expressed interest in opening a site in the village, but they all are looking for a contract that would allow no competition in the village until the end of 2021.
“ We are not likely to get more than one in that time frame, and thereafter, there would be 1.2-mile separation between any dispensaries in the village.
The board also discussed a proposal put forward by Dustin Courtright to open a coffeehouse called Espresso Palette in an existing building at 5730 W. 111 th St.
“ We are looking to make it an arthouse café. We want to make it a place where people can come in and have a coffee, or a beer or wine, and look at the artwork on display,” said Courtright, an artist who also plans to have video gaming. The building needs to be renovated to make the bathrooms handicapped-accessible.
“ We would focus on the main floor, the showroom to display art, a café and a small bar with specialty coffee drinks and some beer and wine,” he said.
Courtright said his café would share the 13-space parking lot owned by Jenny’s Steakhouse, located just to the west, between the restaurant and the café. An existing garage on the site would also be razed to provide five more parking spots.
“ I would recommend that the Planning and Zoning (committee) take a look at it and make sure it meets our requirement for the parking lot,” said Stillman, suggesting that a variance may be required.
Lastly, the board upheld a recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Committee following a June 25 public hearing to deny a business license to someone who wanted to open a truck-dispatching center in a storefront at 10139 S. Harlem Ave.
The site is just north of the former Yellow Freight yard, which the village would like to see redeveloped, but Tokar said one has nothing to do with the other. The village is involved in an ongoing court case with the current owners of the vacant freight yard, who want to reopen the site in defiance of a village ordinance prohibiting another trucking terminal from opening there.