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updated: 8/19/2011 4:05 PM

Menards looking to expand in Mundelein

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  • Mundelein officials are considering a proposal that would dramatically expand the garden center at a local Menards store.

      Mundelein officials are considering a proposal that would dramatically expand the garden center at a local Menards store.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer


Mundelein officials hope a proposed expansion of a local home-improvement store's garden center could boost business in a long-struggling shopping center.

Representatives for the Menards store in Oak Creek Plaza, which is on Route 60 east of Route 45, want to build a 63,745-square-foot garden center on the east end of the store near a main entrance, said Victor Barrera, the village's planning and development director.

The current center is 14,300 square feet and is on the west side of the store. Merchandise there would shift to the new area.

The new garden center would be a permanent structure designed to operate until Menards finds a location for a new store in the village, Barrera said. That search is ongoing, he said.

"Menards has been looking at a number of properties throughout the community to build a new facility to be in line with the current operating model," Barrera wrote in a recent memo to Mayor Kenneth H. Kessler and the village board.

"The approval of the expanded area could mean an increase in sales tax revenue for the village ... (and) the increased traffic could be beneficial to other businesses within the shopping center."

The current garden area is surrounded by a white fence. The proposed garden center would be ringed with a chain-link fence, Barrera said.

Store officials would like the center to open this year, Barrera said, but a 2012 opening is more realistic.

The village's zoning board of appeals, which advises the village board, is set to discuss the proposal Monday night. Zoning board approval is needed because expanding into the Oak Creek Plaza parking lot would eliminate an estimated 198 spaces, Barrera said.

The sprawling, L-shaped center has more than 1,400 spaces now, he said.

Other businesses in the shopping center include a Hobby Lobby crafts store, a Culver's restaurant and a Wa-Pa-Ghetti's Pizza restaurant. Menards -- one of Mundelein's biggest and longest-serving retailers -- has been there since the plaza opened in the 1980s, Barrera said.

But the center has several vacancies. Most visibly, a free-standing Krispy Kreme doughnut shop shut down in 2008 and has been empty since.

The zoning board meeting is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Monday at the village's main fire station, 1000 N. Midlothian Road.

The village board would discuss the matter at a subsequent meeting.