Walmart, Pita Inn coming to Mundelein's Oak Creek Plaza

A Super Walmart store and a Pita Inn restaurant are coming to a long-struggling shopping center on Mundelein's south side, village officials said.

"It's great," Mundelein Village Administrator John Lobaito said of the plans for the Oak Creek Plaza center, which is on Route 60 east of Route 45.

The Walmart would be Mundelein's first.

Some of Oak Creek Plaza will be demolished to make room for the supersized retailer, which Lobaito said plans to close a store at 555 E. Townline Road in nearby Vernon Hills.

The Menards store that's been the anchor at Oak Creek for decades certainly will go, once the chain completes plans to relocate to a different site in the village. Menards is eyeing land on Route 60 north of Route 176 for its new store, Trustee Ray Semple said.

"If everything works out, it'll be nice to win a business away from Vernon Hills," Semple said. "We've got to be patient. There are quite a few stars that have to line up for everything to happen."

A Super Walmart was planned for Mundelein about five years ago, at a shopping center proposed for Route 60 north of Route 176. It's the same land Menards now is considering for a store.

But the project was opposed by residents of a nearby neighborhood and became tied up in court. Eventually the project died.

Lobaito predicted the new Walmart, once it's built, will lead to more commercial redevelopment on the village's south side.

"This will be a big shot in the arm for that whole Route 60 corridor," he said.

Semple is similarly eager to see the project become reality.

"Walmart could truly be the catalyst that turns around that whole corner," he said.

Pita Inn - a family-owned chain with restaurants in Wheeling, Glenview and Skokie - has bought the former Krispy Kreme doughnut shop at the front of the shopping center, Lobaito said.

Since the Krispy Kreme closed in 2008, several businesses have considered purchasing the property, but none of the proposals materialized until Pita Inn closed the deal about six weeks ago, Lobaito said.

"Pita Inn just came in out of the blue," he said.

The owners plan to remodel the building this winter and open the restaurant in 2013, Lobaito said.

Pita Inn specializes in falafel, shawarma, kebabs and other dishes native to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures.

The menu sounds good to Lobaito.

"We like the idea of there being a variety of different cuisines for people to enjoy," he said.

Representatives of Pita Inn and Walmart couldn't be reached for comment.

These aren't the only changes being considered for Oak Creek Plaza. A Hobby Lobby store on the east side of the center is set to move to vacant retail space in Vernon Hills.

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  A Super Walmart store and a Pita Inn restaurant are coming to the long-struggling Oak Creek Plaza shopping center on Mundelein’s south side. Steve Lundy/
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