There has been nary a peep since plans to upgrade and expand Westfield Hawthorn mall in Vernon Hills were proposed this past spring, but indications are that talks regarding a financial incentive package could begin as a precursor to future improvements.
The Vernon Hills village board on Wednesday is scheduled to vote on a confidentiality agreement with Westfield LLC that essentially allows access to financial information for those who need to know, but ensures it is not generally disseminated.
"In this situation, we've asked them to substantiate revenues and the like that they are projecting going forward," Assistant Village Manager John Kalmar said. "We have to review their financials in more depth."
This past April, Westfield proposed what could be a $40 million to $50 million upgrade of the mall at routes 60 and 21 to include a new entrance between Sears and JCPenney, with new restaurants there situated beneath a 12-screen theater. As outlined, the three other mall entrances would also be upgraded and some adjacent spaces filled with new uses.
Westfield initially has requested $7.5 million in incentives over 20 years, and the village is asking for information the company considers confidential and/or proprietary to evaluate.
The company is still working on the cost of the improvements, Kalmar said, and he expects the requested incentive package could change. The company is continuing to evaluate and refine its plans but they remain generally as proposed, said Katy Dickey, Westfield spokeswoman.
"We are still talking. They have been slow in their own analysis and decision making. This is the next logical step in the process," Kalmar said of the confidentiality agreement.
The village has a contract with GMX Real Estate Group LLC of Northbrook to work out the details, as a deal with Westfield is considered more complicated than incentive packages that have been arranged with big box stores or smaller shopping areas.
"We definitely want to negotiate depending on their real needs," Mayor Roger Byrne said.