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updated: 9/24/2012 11:53 PM

Bloomingdale approves $1.3 million for Springbrook redeveloment

Bloomingdale OKs deal on Springbrook

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The Bloomingdale board of trustees voted Monday in favor of a measure that would provide village support for the $4.7 million redevelopment of the Springbrook Shopping Center on Lake Street.

All trustees supported the plan that would provide $1.3 million in aid except Trustee Robert Czernek, who abstained.

They acted despite a call from developer Stelios Aktipis, a managing partner in Lake/Ridge, LLC that owns the mall, to withdraw the proposal due to worries about lack of funds on his end.

"We have serious concerns as to whether we can enter an agreement and whether we can actually perform financially," he said.

But Village President Bob Iden pressed the matter both sides have been discussing for months, since both said they are concerned about keeping Caputo's Fresh Market as the anchor store.

Currently, Caputo's lease is expired and the owners are renting month-to-month. Aktipis said in June the owners "are frustrated" with moving forward on a new lease because they want to know the expansion can happen.

"This is basically getting this process started but it is going to be tweaked," Iden said. "At least you can go to Caputo's and say, 'Let's work on some details.'"

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 later gained Caputo's 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.

In June, Aktipis proposed the $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 original 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.

But on Monday Bloomingdale agreed to only $1.3 million in support, bringing Lake/Ridge's share to roughly $2.5 million. Officials also told Aktipis his proposal for the Connie's pizza area must go through the proper zoning process to address typical concerns like parking before being divided into three retailers.

Village Attorney Ronald Cope said in June either real estate or sale tax increments would carry the $1.3 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.

Village Administrator Martin Bourke said securing a long-term lease with Caputo's is the "No. 1 priority," along with upgrading parking, lighting and other areas that directly affect shoppers.

He and Iden also said Aktipis can approach the village board later for financial help regarding the area of Springbrook where Connie's Pizza used to stand.

"I don't think the board is saying we're against the outlying improvements," Iden said. "It's just there is not enough detail. It hasn't been through the plan commission."

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