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posted: 8/21/2017 1:08 PM

Geneva Commons to upgrade its outdoor space

Geneva Commons to upgrade its outdoor space to lure customers to just hang out

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  • The commons area in the heart of the Geneva Commons shopping center is undergoing a transformation that will make it a park-like gathering place.

      The commons area in the heart of the Geneva Commons shopping center is undergoing a transformation that will make it a park-like gathering place.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer


And here we were, all this time, spending so much brainpower on what needed to happen to revive Charlestowne Mall.

In the meantime, Geneva Commons is staying ahead of the trends, making changes that those involved with Charlestowne sort of talked about and drew pretty pictures of, but could never get a vision to fall into place.

Geneva Commons revealed a few weeks ago that it would renovate the shopping center's central commons area into a "park-like-gathering" green space.

It will have comfortable seats, a fireplace, a life-size chessboard -- all of the things that might lure people to just hang out.

The Commons already schedules all sorts of outdoor concerts and other events, so any sort of upgrade to its outdoor gathering places will be welcome.

Managers say the upgraded common areas should be in place for the holiday shopping season.

At Charlestowne Mall, the answer ultimately turned out to be what it probably should have been all along -- a bigger mix of residential with some retail and restaurants taking hold on its perimeter.

Any hopes of a revived Charlestowne, even under its new name of The Quad, had no financial legs underneath it, or the data to support it as a sound business strategy.

Cooper's Hawk is no slouch in the restaurant game, and its presence in that area on the east side of St. Charles, along with Starbucks, certainly serves as a decent kick-start to anything else that may happen next. On the Border restaurant continues to apparently do well in that region, too.

In the meantime, this latest move at Geneva Commons is hopefully only one in a string of moves we'll see in the future for it to stay relevant in the retail game.

Much of what we've talked about in the past about "omnichannel" retail, in which consumers use mobile devices to get offers, to check prices and obtain information off product codes, and maybe even engage in some virtual shopping on-site or through the retailer's online store, is far more likely to come into play over time at the Geneva Commons.

It's pretty clear that if a retailer or mall operation can play its cards right and get the proper mix of traditional in-store shopping with services that appeal to younger, mobile-driven consumers, they will be around a lot longer than those that do not.

Abby's hot streak:

Nothing is better than riding a hot streak, whether it is in athletics or business.

That has to be how Abby's Breakfast and Lunch owner Rob Mondi feels about his downtown St. Charles restaurant.

Abby's was recently named one of the top 10 lunch places in Illinois from

That's something Mondi's loyal customers already felt, but for someone else to bring it up it is always gratifying, especially for Mondi, who has seen all sorts of other breakfast spots pop up in the downtown region since he opened Abby's in the spring of 2015.

So, taking those good vibes and rolling with it, Abby's was one of several St. Charles businesses that donated items for The Greater St. Charles Convention and Visitor Bureau's "Authentically, St. Charles" display in the Agritourism tent at the fair, which ends today.

The merchants donating to the display made sense for an Agritourism theme -- Bespoke Sentiments, Corron Farm, The Finery and Blacksmith Restaurant, Garfield Farm Museum, Heritage Prairie Farm, Hotel Baker, Pure Essentials, St. Charles Park District, Stitched and Wrapped, and Two Wild Seeds Bakery.

It will be Denny's:

After two starts and stops, those who really enjoyed the Honey Jam restaurant on Randall Road in Batavia for breakfast had to finally face the fact that it was gone and not coming back.

But at least another option is taking that spot at 521 N. Randall Road as we await a new Denny's, which has scheduled its soft opening for Sept. 18.

While it touts the "Grand Slam" breakfast of eggs, pancakes, sausage and bacon, we have to remind ourselves that this longtime restaurant chain actually is open for lunch, dinner and late-night.

Vision for townhouses:

The lot at the northeast corner of First and Stevens streets in Geneva has been empty for as long as any of us can remember.

But the city's plan commission has already listened to a concept presentation for First Street Row Homes, a five-unit row house building from Hogan Design and Construction that would be located right across the street from the Park Place townhouses project that is in its last phase. Like other city row houses, the plan calls for a rooftop greenhouse, which should be an interesting twist.

Other than the fact that First Street (Route 25) is always busy and fairly noisy, we find these two townhouse projects to be winners in any "location, location" marketing pitch.

They are close to downtown Geneva, Wheeler Park and the Fox River, while also a stone's throw from Mount St. Mary Park and downtown St. Charles.

That better trap:

For many years, businesses liked to use the phrase "we're going to build a better mousetrap" when saying they were about to outdo their competitors.

The phrase fit because, well, those who make mousetraps have built better ones over the years.

Humans don't particularly care for rodents, and we don't like monkeying around with baiting traps and disposing of these critters after they've met their demise. That's why the search for an easier, yet effective, trap has always drawn interest.

I finally broke down and bought better mousetraps recently after years of toiling with the efficient, but sort-of-hard-to-bait wooden traps.

For those who are a tad squeamish, stop reading this now. For those who set traps in their homes, this information serves as a heads-up on what might happen.

The new "quick kill" model certainly was easier to bait and it killed the mouse -- but not right away. In fact, the mouse was able to scurry around with the trap clamping down on its head.

This was hard to watch and confirmed something about me: If I didn't have to, I wouldn't hurt a mouse. But I had to in this instance to put this poor thing out of its misery.

If this better trap proves to be a "slow kill" rather than a quick one yet again, the older models may come out of the garage cabinet and back into action.

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