St. Charles aldermen completed on Monday night the first in many steps to come in the resuscitation of Charlestowne Mall.
In approving the preliminary design concept for the mall, aldermen nudged the potential new owners toward actually taking title to the property.
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Aldermen didn't add any further discussion or questions of the plan before casting a unanimous vote. David Pyle, executive vice president of The Krausz Cos., simply shook hands with city staffers at the conclusion of the vote.
It, perhaps, marked a sign of a job well done and recognition that a lot more talking will occur before any big changes happen at the mall.
The conceptual drawings of the mall, especially the presence of a great deal of exterior customer foot traffic, indicate an ambitious facelift.
The concentration will be improving the exterior of the 82-acre mall property. That means adding outlots for stores and restaurants along Main Street.
But it also means chopping off the empty former Sears portion of the mall in favor of enhancing the movie theater entrance. The theater is one of the largest draws still remaining in the nearly vacant property.
But first, an official change in ownership must occur. Representatives of The Krausz Cos. have told city officials they expect to take over the title this month. With the city council's vote Monday, Mayor Ray Rogina said there is nothing left for city officials to do to encourage the purchase.
"They still haven't taken over the title yet, but even from there it is all just still a concept," Rogina said. "I am pleased with the way they've been inching along nicely. They've been very cooperative. But at the end of the day, I'm still nervous until the first shovel is turned."
The city council's vote Monday only indicated a willingness to proceed with the general direction the potential new owners want to take the mall. Pyle and his associates must still win approval of the specifics once the final details are sorted out.
City officials also have yet to publicly discuss any potential financial assistance the project may need from city taxpayers.
Aldermen have generically discussed the idea of an east gateway business district with a new sales tax targeted at getting the mall on its feet again. But none of that discussion has yet been applied to the new design concept.