The redevelopment of the Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles moved forward Monday night, as the city's planning and development committee approved a conceptual site plan.
It also recommended that the mall's 25-year-old planned unit development ordinance be modified to accommodate the changes.
The city council will vote on the measures at 7 p.m. Nov. 4.
Only Alderman Ed Bessner had a question -- about the maximum height of the buildings.
That would be about 54 feet; nothing could be taller than the skylight in the mall.
The proposal calls for knocking off the empty Sears store from the building and making that area a more prominent entrance for the Charlestowne Cinema. The property developers, the Krausz Cos., envision that entrance could have more restaurants and entertainment-oriented businesses.
The concept also calls for building about a half-dozen free-standing restaurants and stores on the southern edge of the property, near Main Street.
Former mayoral candidate John Rabchuk said that if aldermen offer economic incentives for development related to the outlots, such as for extending utilities, they should require that the main building project be done first. He said the outlots may prove more valuable, and he worries that the main mall would be ignored.
Rabchuk also said he thought the setup of the entrance on the property's southwest corner, in relation to a proposed outlot, was dangerous. He described it as similar to the situation at the Fresh Market grocery store off Bricher Road in Geneva, at the Geneva Commons mall. Traffic backs up there as cars stop to let pedestrians cross from the parking lot, or to turn left in to the parking lot.
Committee chairman Dan Stellato disagreed that it would be dangerous. He also disagreed with the idea that crossing parking lots and internal roads at Geneva Commons was dangerous, asking Rabchuk if he had ever heard of people being hurt.
Charlestowne Mall opened in 1991. Its would-be new owners report that in it best days in the 1990s, it was only 70 percent leased. An anchor store, Sears, closed in 2011. Counting the food court and anchor stores, there are 11 open stores and vendors in it. The mall had as many as 120 spaces, according to a 2012 study commissioned by the city.
The mall has changed hands several times, and it once went in to foreclosure. The current owners bought it in 2010. They talked of building an ice-skating rink in it and installing a sushi bar, but they have not submitted plans to the city.