The Salvation Army and West Dundee are clashing on whether a thrift store near Spring Hill Mall is the right place for the business.
Salvation Army leaders say a spot just east of the mall is ideal, but Village President Chris Nelson said Century Plaza on Route 31 is a much more appropriate place for the shop. "When you
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"When you have used goods sales, it's a different kind of market and it's not a complementary use to a regional mall," Nelson said. "It would be poor planning to allow such a use outside of a regional mall."
The Salvation Army approached the village in January to open a resale shop at Spring Hill Gateway East, on Route 31 just north of Route 72.
With the exception of Red Wing Shoes, the strip mall is empty.
What complicates matters is that the Bank of Camden, the strip mall's owner, is suing West Dundee over more than $600,000 in special service area tax funds the village refuses to turn over because the bank has not taken a serious interest in the property's economic development, Village Manager Joseph Cavallaro said.
The Salvation Army's interest in the property prompted the board to enact a 90-day moratorium in February on approving used goods merchants, Cavallaro said.
At the moment, there aren't any shops in the village that sell used goods, and officials used the moratorium to review zoning conditions and criteria within the village's respective zoning districts, he said.
"It's a question of where appropriately in the community should they be located," Cavallaro said.
The plan commission recommends officials limit used goods merchants with 5,000 square feet or less to the village's retail corridor on Route 31, south of Route 72. Those interested in clustering together or opening a place larger than 5,000 square feet would require a special use permit.
The village board will vote on that recommendation May 5.
The Salvation Army is an international nonprofit organization that spreads the word of God, fights hunger and poverty, rebuilds broken homes and helps people get back on their feet. As a nonprofit, the store would not generate property tax revenue toward the special service area or the surrounding tax increment finance district, Cavallaro said.
Mitch Melamed, a Salvation Army attorney, doesn't understand why West Dundee leaders aren't more eager to generate new sales tax revenue with the store that would sell clothes, furniture and miscellaneous items that are both new and used. It would also bring between 20 and 30 jobs to the village, he said.
"We're most interested to come to West Dundee to open up a family store," Melamed said, adding that the organization operates 50 stores statewide, some in upscale communities. "It's even more disconcerting and unexplainable as to why an (almost) empty mall is advantageous to anybody."
West Dundee has seen its sales tax revenue shrink in recent years with the closure of Best Buy and other retailers.
On Saturday, Target also is closing after almost 20 years. The big-box retailer represents one of the village's biggest sales tax generators,
Last week, the village imposed new taxes on gasoline, food and beverage sales to cope with the anticipated $400,000 budget shortfall primarily caused by Target's future departure.
West Dundee isn't being elitist, Nelson said. It's just that used retail stores work better in such neighborhood-type spaces as Century Plaza, not near regional malls.
"We do have a situation where we have seen some departures and we have some available space in the mall and around the mall," Nelson said. "I don't think when we have a situation like that where we can take whatever we can get."