More than two years after buying an aging strip mall for $2.8 million, Hanover Park officials are ramping up their efforts to turn the property over to the private sector.
Trustees on Thursday directed village planners to seek developers' formal proposals to revive the Hanover Square Shopping Center on Barrington Road. The goal is to sell the mall to a developer whose vision ties in with Hanover Park's long-term plans for a nearby Village Center -- an ambitious hub of retailers, restaurants and housing.
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"I believe the market is changing, and we may have some opportunities to sell (Hanover Square) and get it in the hands of developers who really know what they're doing," Mayor Rodney Craig said.
The village board also agreed to instruct architects to begin designing a new facade that could cost an estimated $1.5 million. But if a developer steps forward, the village may hold off on investing in the facelift, officials say.
Since purchasing the site in 2011, Hanover Park has already poured money into improvements to the shopping center's roof, utilities and other infrastructure. The village also installed new signs and tore down a shuttered restaurant.
But the village's upgrades have failed to fetch a new owner and lure a surge of new tenants to a strip mall plagued by vacancies. Sixty percent of Hanover Square is occupied.
"We are not in the business of being landlords, so it took a little bit of time to address some of the maintenance issues to attract additional tenants," Community and Economic Development Director Shubhra Govind said.
Tens of thousands of drivers pass by Hanover Square each day. Officials say the extension of the Elgin-O'Hare Expressway -- a decades-long project that will provide access to the airport's western side -- will bring more traffic to the area and more eyes on the shopping center.
Govind, who was hired in August, hopes to present a list of viable proposals to the village board in the spring. She said the village is not pushing a specific concept for Hanover Square, sitting on nearly 10 acres near the center of town.
"We're trying to keep all of our options open," Govind said.
But Craig is eager for a project that also redevelops vacant land to the south of the mall and north of Lake Street.
"We're hoping that a single developer comes in there and looks at that whole thing and revitalizes it," he said.