The Menards home improvement store in Mundelein will close for good at 5 p.m. Friday, but the company plans to retain a presence in the area with a new store in neighboring Vernon Hills.
The Eau Claire, Wis.-based chain is proposing a two-story, 223,775-square-foot store north of Gregg's Parkway and west of Route 21 (Milwaukee Avenue) in what is known as the Gregg's Landing north commercial area.
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According to a concept plan to be informally considered Tuesday by the Vernon Hills village board, Menards would build on the northern half of the 35-acre site with adjoining lots available for other uses.
The company is working with Bradford Real Estate, developers of the Shoppes of Gregg's Landing, which includes a Mariano's Fresh Market and Lowe's home improvement store to the south of Gregg's Parkway.
"It's a matter of Menards wanting to stay in the area and looking for a quality location," said John Kalmar, Vernon Hills' assistant village manager.
As proposed, the store also would include an outdoor garden center, an adjoining 42,352-square-foot warehouse and 404 parking spaces.
In a letter to Mayor Roger Byrne, the privately held company touts its operations as being brighter and more open than competitors and that the cart escalator in the two-story layout would set the Vernon Hills location apart from others.
Besides the Lowe's basically next door, there also is a Home Depot store farther south on Milwaukee Avenue.
One issue is how four, 4-unit residential buildings in the Bay Hill development that overlook the western property line will be screened from the store. There already is a nine-foot berm planted with large evergreens in that location but additional landscaping likely will be required, according to information provided to the village board.
"The other issue is going to be traffic on Gregg's Parkway and the possibility of adding a traffic signal. That will be looked at very closely," Kalmar said. Access to the site would be from Milwaukee Avenue across from Red To Plaza and from Greggs Parkway, across from two driveways on the south side of the road.
While it offers no guarantees of approval, the village board routinely offers informal opinions on large developments to determine whether they will proceed to staff review and an eventual public hearing.
"We're still working through the approval process, and if all goes as planned we hope to build a new store some day in Vernon Hills, although no official timeline has been established," a Menards spokesman said.
Meanwhile, 50 percent discounts continue as the 20-year run of Menards at the Oak Creek Plaza on Route 60 in Mundelein ends Friday. The store will be razed and replaced with a Super Walmart. Employees reportedly have been given the option to relocate to other locations in Long Grove, Gurnee or Fox Lake.
Originally, Menards was to have relocated to a new shopping center at the intersection of routes 60 and 83, but that has remained undeveloped.
"There was a court battle and the economy changed and that project has yet to move forward," said Mike Flynn, Mundelein's assistant village manager.
Flynn said Menards looked at other properties in town but they didn't work out the company's purposes.