Photo by Jeff Vorva
Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton said at his State of the Village Address last Thursday that he is hoping in the coming weeks a developer will purchase the Plaza, demolish the building and rebuild a lifestyle center with high-end stores but the deal feel through earlier this week.
By Bob Rakow
and Jeff Vorva
Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton last Thursday hinted that plans for a lifestyle center at the site of the shuttered Plaza are “inching closer” to reality. He brought it up at a State of the Village Address at the village’s Community Center.
But reality hit the mayor and the village hard as Crains Chicago business reported Tuesday that a potential deal with the Tampa-based DeBartelo group collapsed and the foreclosure process has restarted.
It looks like it’s back to square one for the village.
“It's a wide open playing field” right now,” Ben Wineman, principal at Mid-America Real Estate, the Oak Brook-based brokerage selling the Plaza, told Crains.
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 Crains the deal fell through.
It appears to be a huge blow for EP. Last Thursday, Sexton said he was hopeful a deal will be closed before the end of the year.
Of course, the village has been close to sealing the deal on the Plaza before, only to see various obstacles get in the way. Sexton was hopeful this time was for real.
It’s been a long process already and it could get longer to sell and demolish the 730,000-plus square-foot mall.
“It’s like having four molars removed,” Sexton said.
The Plaza closed the doors on the interior mall in May, 2013 after 60 of years of business in the community. It fell into foreclosure in 2011.
A development firm led by former San Francisco 49ers' owner Eddie DeBartolo has plans to demolish the mall and replace it with a more contemporary, $112 million shopping center.
DeBartolo Development LLC planned to build a “lifestyle center” at the 30.2-acre site at 9500 S. Western Ave. But there’s been no update on the proposal for several months.
The Plaza and other recent retail developments were the focal points of Sexton’s annual address, sponsored by the Senior Citizen Council of Evergreen Park. Sexton delivered his remarks before approximately 85 people at the center.
“This is one of my favorite days of the year,” said Sexton, who thanked members of the crowd for their continued thoughts and prayers during his ongoing rehabilitation from the effects of West Nile Virus, which he contracted more than two year ago. “I am blessed to be here today.”
Sexton also discussed property taxes and took questions from the audience at the end of the village address, his 13th as mayor.
But there was no was question that the changing face of Evergreen Park was the key to the mayor’s remarks, which lasted about 20 minutes.
“The future of Evergreen Park has never been brighter,” Sexton said, referring to ongoing development on the east side of town, including Menards, Meijer and the soon-to-open Mariano’s.
Mariano’s is scheduled to open the first week of February, and a job fair for Evergreen Park residents on Dec. 4 at Village Hall.
“We’ve got a lot of our local people to put work,” he said.
The mayor added that the new Walgreen’s at the 95th Street and Pulaski Road, serves as much-improved gateway to the western entrance to the village. He added
that the village is working to place a tenant in the former Walgreens site on 95th Street.
“We are a little ways away from that,” Sexton said.
Sexton also referenced Binny’s Beverage Depot, PetSmart, the recently completed addition to Little Company of Mary Hospital as successful additions to the village’s business community. On the food front, Sexton said a Noodles & Company is making its way to town and a Vietnamese-French fusion restaurant will eventually take over the property that housed Snackville Junction.
Sexton said the village has no choice but to welcome large retailers in order to keep property taxes down. But, he said, small, established businesses are “what kept us going.”
Speaking of property taxes, Sexton said the village’s portion of resident’s tax bill is 13 percent, 3 percent less than when he took office.
“We continue to try to lower (the village’s) portion of the tax bill,” he said.