Grocery store, luxury residences part of plan to transform Hawthorn Mall

A gourmet grocery store, quality restaurants and shops, and 450 luxury multifamily units are part of a grand plan to transform and energize the 1970s-era Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills.

A parklike outdoor gathering place for year-round events and activities also is a main element in what is described as a "comprehensive and transformative" redevelopment to change the look of the center and property northwest of Milwaukee Avenue (Route 21) and Townline Road (Route 60).

Major components will unfold and be focused on the demolition of the former Sears and Carson Pirie Scott anchor spots, owned by Dallas-based Centennial Real Estate, which acquired the mall property in late 2015.

Anchor spots are owned separately, but those two were acquired by a partnership controlled by Centennial when they became available as an opportunity to redefine the center. The company controls about 64 acres of the mall's land area.

Centennial already is in the village review process for what are expected to be three restaurants outside the mall proper, between Ring Drive and Milwaukee Avenue. That concept was informally approved by village officials in November.

On Wednesday, Centennial will present the next phase of its redevelopment plan during the informal work session portion of the village board meeting beginning at 7 p.m. at village hall, 290 Evergreen Drive.

The "significant redevelopment ... will transform Hawthorn Mall into a destination development offering a unique-to-market experience" for Vernon Hills and surrounding communities, the company said in an announcement last month.

In a related matter, immediately preceding the Centennial presentation, the board will review a draft of a retail market study and store strategy report prepared for the village by Melaniphy and Associates.

The objective of that study - the first in about 10 years - is to prepare a strategy for the development or redevelopment of three major sites in town including Hawthorn Mall.

"What they're (Centennial) proposing falls right in line with what Melaniphy is proposing for that site," said Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer. "That's why we matched the two (presentations) up at the same board meeting."

At this point, no names for any of the potential new arrivals or estimated investment has been mentioned or shared with the village. However, Centennial has described the plan as largest investment in the 1.3 million-square-foot mall since it opened in 1973.

The company also said it will seek economic incentives from the village to be described in detail at another time.

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  The former Carson Pirie Scott and Sears store spots are keys to a proposed redevelopment of Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills. Steve Lundy/, 2018
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