Nordstrom Rack to join Whole Foods at Mellody Farm in Vernon Hills

Nordstrom Rack, the off-price division of the Seattle-based retailer, announced Wednesday it will open a store in a new shopping center planned in Vernon Hills.

It is the first announced new tenant at Mellody Farm, a proposed $200 million mixed use of retail and apartments that received final village approval two weeks ago. Whole Foods Market long has been advertised by developer Regency Centers as a main anchor of the project at the northeast corner of Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21) and Townline Road (Route 60).

Nordstrom Rack offers trendy, top-brand apparel, accessories and shoes at 30 percent to 70 percent off regular prices from Nordstrom stores and, as well as its own items. The fashion specialty retailer operates 123 full-line Nordstrom stores and 215 Nordstrom Rack stores, according to the company.

"Nordstrom Rack is known as having great prices on designer goods," said Matt Hendy, Regency vice president and regional officer.

The Vernon Hills location will be the 15th Rack store in the Chicago area, including stores planned to open in early April in Schererville, Indiana, and as an anchor in the Kildeer Village Square shopping center.

Since last fall, Nordstrom Rack also opened in Algonquin Commons in Algonquin and Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont, and a Nordstrom's Last Chance clearance store opened at Yorktown Center in Lombard. It also operates four full-line stores, including the flagship Nordstrom's on Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

The Vernon Hills store will be 30,000 square feet and is the first of more expected anchors, joining Whole Foods and a "variety of best in class restaurants and retailers" at Mellody Farm.

"I think what you're going to see happening now is all the leases they were working on will start falling into place pretty quickly," Mayor Roger Byrne said.

Assistant Village Manager Joe Carey said Nordstom Rack will be a good addition to the vast retail menu in town.

"It's not something we have," he said.

As part of a $20 million incentive, the village is requiring proof at least half the 272,242-square-foot center is leased - as well as 18 other conditions - before borrowing funds to pay Regency upfront.

"We should have two more anchors in three to four weeks, tops," Hendy said. "I'm waiting for the signed leases to come back."

Regency has a contract to buy the 50-acre property from the Cuneo Trust and will close within 60 days, Hendy said. In turn, a portion of the property will be sold to Focus Acquisitions LLC to build 260 luxury apartments.

Mellody Farm, across Milwaukee Avenue from the Hawthorn regional shopping center, has been described as having an urban feel unlike typical suburban shopping areas.

"The purpose of this center is when people come to Mellody Farm, they're going to get an experience," Hendy said. "It's a different type of place, hopefully more fun than sitting on your couch and buying online."

To that end, the company will launch a branding campaign for Mellody Farm.

A fall 2018 opening is planned.


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A variety of restaurants are part of the planned Mellody Farm development at Milwaukee Avenue and Route 60 in Vernon Hills. Courtesy of Regency Centers
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