Two developers appeared before St. Charles aldermen Monday night to detail the behind-the-scenes machinations of bringing two of the city's most important commercial hubs back to life.
One appeared as part of a team that's already showed enough progress to earn trust from city officials. The other appeared in hopes of demonstrating enough business acumen to buy more time.
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Charles May, project manager for redesigning Charlestowne Mall into The Quad for the Krausz Companies', told aldermen his team's main focus in the cold weather months is bringing something to the mall that it hasn't had in years -- stores to shop at.
"We are working on solidifying our anchor commitments and, most importantly of all, leasing, leasing, leasing," May said.
He would not reveal any new businesses that may have signed letters of intent or new leases.
"It's a long, hard process," May said. "It doesn't move quickly. I think at this point I can say it's going just fine."
Local shoppers are already anticipating new tenants at the mall. Students at Wredling Middle School recently completed a survey of which stores they'd most like to see at The Quad. Students listed a wide range of stores. Everything from Lululemon Athletica, Nike and Tilly's to an Airsoft area, P.F. Chang's and an Apple Store were on their wish lists.
The new version of the mall will see a facelift before any new shops spring to life. As soon as the weather warms up, the existing food court area will be demolished, followed by the razing of the old Sears store. Some significant regrading will also occur to make the rear of the mall and the portions facing Rt. 64 more visible by motorists.
Making St. Charles' other critical commercial hub, First Street, successful will also hinge, in part, on visibility. SMN Development owns the former Manor Restaurant site and has been the developer of choice for a 52-foot-wide piece of land at the gateway of the First Street development on Main Street.
Aldermen peppered attorney Joe Klein about the lack of progress SMN has made in the past five years when he appeared before them in November. Klein met with city staff and two aldermen in a closed-door meeting Monday. Afterward he said his associates have hired a consultant to determine the construction costs and process associated with SMN's plans for the site. Once those are known, Klein's team will determine how much rent they must charge to turn a profit. And, once the rent is known, the team Klein's associates have hired to market the space will provide estimates on how long it may take to fill the space with tenants.
All those are details aldermen said they were disappointed Klein could not provide back in November. At the time, aldermen told Klein they were leaning toward ousting his team in favor of a new developer. Klein's private meeting Monday appeared to buy him more time.