Wheeling village board members have unanimously given final approval to the Wheeling Town Center, which is expected to welcome its first residents and patrons in summer 2018.
The town center is a $110 million project that will bring a five-story, 300-unit luxury apartment building and 100,000 square feet of commercial space, including an anchoring movie theater, to the former Wickes Furniture site just east of the Wheeling Metra station.
Among the tenants joining CMX Theaters in signing a letter of intent so far are Terra Fiamma Restaurant, Starbucks Coffee, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Noodles and Company, Andy's Frozen Custard and AT&T.
"They're all going to be coming to the market at the same time," said developer Brad Friedman of WTC LLC.
Though some site preparation work is expected to begin soon, a groundbreaking ceremony for the new structures themselves won't occur until the spring, Friedman said.
One of the biggest changes to the project this year was CMX Theaters' replacement of Flix Brewhouse as the anchoring movie theater and restaurant.
CMX, which will partner with Lettuce Entertain You for the dining component, is the sixth-largest movie theater chain in the world and had stronger financing, Wheeling Economic Development Director John Melaniphy said. In contrast, Flix Brewhouse has only four locations across the country.
The CMX theater will have 10 screens and occupy 40,000 square feet.
The apartment building will wrap around a parking garage for its residents and a courtyard featuring a pool, a bocce court, a firepit, barbecue grills, a gazebo bar and other amenities.
Though Wheeling Town Center occupies the available developable land east of the railroad tracks, village officials would like to see its influence spread to the west side as well.
"We're also hoping that will be a catalyst for the vacant former Kmart site," Melaniphy said. "The long-term vision is for a masterplanned mixed-use development."
Some existing industrial businesses are also planning to relocate soon, making more retail, restaurant and medical office uses in the area possible, Melaniphy said.