Bloomingdale officials said Monday they want to take their time considering a $4.7 million proposal to revitalize the Springbrook Shopping Center. The proposal requests a redevelopment agreement with the village that would include $1.9 million aid from Bloomingdale.
The shopping center at Lake Street and Circle Avenue is part of a tax increment financing district, which was created in 1999 when the strip mall was experiencing a mass exodus of retailers. Springbrook even lost its then-anchor, Dominick's grocery store, but late gained Caputo's Fresh Market in the vacant space under the TIF.
Still, several vacancies remain on the west side of the center, including the old Connie's Pizza building. So on Monday Stelios Aktipis, a managing partner in Lake/Ridge, LLC that owns the mall, proposed a $4.7 improvement plan for Springbrook that includes parking and lighting upgrades, an expansion of Caputo's, and reconfiguring the former Connie's building to accommodate a smaller Italian restaurant and two other businesses.
Under the plan, Lake/Ridge would contribute roughly $1.9 million and Caputo's would pay about $957,000 for work that would include expanding its current 36,000 square-foot building to 42,000 square feet. The remaining $1.9 million come from Bloomingdale's tax revenue.
If Bloomingdale officials agree, Village Attorney Ronald Cope said either real estate or sale tax increments would carry the $1.9 million payment; the village would not actually issue checks for the work upfront.
Aktipis said the work is needed because the center is still hurting from the loss of tenants in the late 1990s, followed by the recession about a decade later.
"Hopefully we can improve the center, bring it back to its better life phase where it was a few years back and put it back again on the map to everyone's benefit, and especially to the community's benefit," Aktipis said.
But Aktipis' former partner, George Koufos, the principal of Springbrook Partners LLC, in Wood Dale, also spoke when public comments were invited during Monday's village board meeting. Koufos said he was a partial owner of the mall when the renovations began in 1999, and added remodeling began before money arrived from the TIF benefits.
He asked officials to consider that his company did not reap the promised benefits from its work in 1999 after he split from the project, and to review a proposal that he plans to submit.
"The gist of the matter is there were not sufficient funds through the process to repay us for our efforts," Koufos said.
Village President Bob Iden urged a special meeting, which is not yet scheduled, to consider all proposals regarding Springbrook Shopping Center.
"It's not like anything has to be done tonight," he said, noting talks with Aktipis have been ongoing for two years. "I want to make the right decision for the right reason.
But Aktipis said there is a time crunch, since Caputo's lease is currently expired and the owners are renting month-to-month. He said the owners "are frustrated" to move forward with a new lease because they want to know the expansion can happen.
"To lose Caputo's would be a disaster," Aktipis said.
Village Administrator Martin Bourke said, ultimately, if Bloomingdale renews the redevelopment agreement, the goal would be to get more businesses, more shoppers and generate more property and sales tax revenue.
"Caputo's doesn't just want to stay there … they want to expand another 6,000 square feet, and that's very much in the village's interest."