As businesses across the suburbs are struggling to survive or closing, the Menards home-improvement store in Mundelein is moving forward with what would be a significant expansion.
The village board on Monday gave Menards permission to build a new, 63,745-square-foot garden center on the east side of the store, which is in the Oak Creek Plaza shopping center. The current gardening area is 14,300 square feet and is on the west side of the store. Its products would shift to the new area.
A 2012 opening is expected.
The garden center would be a fenced, permanent structure that would operate until Menards finds a location for a new store in the village, officials have said. That search is ongoing.
Special permission from the village board was needed Monday because the proposed garden center will occupy space that's now filled with parking spots. Village rules dictate how many parking spaces a shopping center must have.
Set far back on Route 60 east of Route 45, Oak Creek Plaza has more than 1,400 parking spaces. The garden center will eliminate an estimated 198 spaces, officials have said.
The proposed expansion is a rare sign of growth at the shopping center, which has been losing business -- and businesses -- for years. Recent casualties include a Krispy Kreme doughnut shop that shut down in 2008 and a Card & Party Warehouse that's been advertising a going-out-of-business sale and is scheduled to close after Halloween, an employee said.
Other businesses in the center include a Hobby Lobby crafts store, a Culver's restaurant and a Wa-pa-Ghetti's Pizza restaurant.
The village board unanimously approved the proposal after a brief safety-related discussion. Trustee Ed Sullivan requested the deal require barricades be put in place to prevent cars from crashing into the garden center.