Mount Prospect officials announced late Thursday that they have entered a letter of intent with an investor that likely will see the former Central Plaza shopping center, demolished by the village in 2015, replaced by a bank and a retail building that likely will house a restaurant.
"We're going in a good direction," Village Manager Michael Cassady said in an interview.
The village interviewed three firms and chose Chicago-based First Equity Group to lead the redevelopment of the 1.6-acre property at the northwest corner of Central and Main streets. The plan is for two 5,000-square-foot buildings, one to house the Chase Bank operations currently in an office tower at 111 E. Busse Ave., and the second for a potential fast-casual restaurant.
"The village was aggressive in acquiring this strategic property and preparing it for successful redevelopment," Cassady said in a news release.
The plaza has become an eyesore and the village was unsuccessful in finding the owner. The village got court approval to demolish the buildings. It spent $650,000 to do that and remediate environmental issues. Then, it placed a lien on the property and ultimately acquired it through foreclosure.
First Equity will pay the village $1.65 million for the land, resulting in about a $1 million profit for the village. First Equity will be pursuing approvals from the Planning and Zoning Commission and village board later this summer and plans to begin construction of the development this fall, the village said in the news release.
The village's redevelopment plans for the downtown largely have been stalled over the last decade as potential investors encountered financial problems in the wake of the Great Recession.
Cassady said he is hopeful that this project could be the beginning of a turnaround for the downtown. The office tower at Busse and Emerson has a high vacancy rate, and with Chase's departure, there is the potential to refurbish or redevelop the property, he said.
In addition, the land to the south of the tower is occupied by village police and fire operations. The village has been studying the possibility of moving them out of the downtown as part of needed upgrades, potentially creating opportunities for redevelopment of that area in conjunction with the office tower, he said.