Plan to turn old Rolling Meadows Sam’s Club into Asian-focused ‘lifestyle center’ could get green light

Elected officials in Rolling Meadows will vote Tuesday on a plan that would transform a long-vacant Sam’s Club into what’s being billed as an Asian-focused lifestyle center of restaurants, shops and entertainment.

The city council’s approval of zoning entitlements would pave the way for developer Eddie Ni’s $10 million, 125,600-square-foot Pacifica on Golf redevelopment at Golf and Algonquin roads in the Northwest suburb.

Ni plans to renovate and reuse the big box — vacant since the discount club warehouse closed in 2010 — and construct interior walls to create at least 10 tenant spaces. The shopping center would be anchored by an Asian grocery store, and include a family entertainment venue and six restaurants.

The plan mirrors what Ni’s Windfall Group did to the former 360,000-square-foot Yorkshire Plaza in Aurora starting in 2018. Phase two of that Asian lifestyle center redevelopment, called Pacifica Square, is underway.

The Aurora-based developer has found a niche in transforming old big box stores into shopping centers in areas with growing Asian American populations. Ni manages a portfolio of 16 commercial real estate projects across 10 states.

He acquired the Rolling Meadows property for $4.5 million in 2022.

  Developer Eddie Ni has found a niche in converting old shopping areas into Asian-focused lifestyle centers, including Pacifica Square in Aurora. Brian Hill/, 2021

“Our concept revolves around creating a dynamic space that encompasses various facets of retail, culinary experiences and family entertainment,” the developer wrote in the Rolling Meadows zoning application. “We are confident that our unique blend of offerings will not only complement the existing tenants but also contribute to the overall appeal of Pacifica on Golf as a premier destination.”

Windfall has leases or letters of intent for these businesses:

• Enson Market, a 42,789-square-foot grocery store catering to the Asian community.

• A still-unnamed 33,636-square-foot family entertainment/recreation center.

• Infunite Claw Machine Arcade, an 8,000-square-foot gaming center.

• Daiso, an 8,000-square-foot Japanese chain store selling home decor, stationery, food and cosmetics.

• Mango Mango, a 1,138-square-foot dessert shop serving blended fruit drinks, teas, cakes and desserts.

• Gyu San, a 4,628-square-foot Japanese barbecue restaurant.

• Lao Sze Chuan, which serves traditional Sichuan cuisine, and Te’Amo bubble tea, sharing a 5,000-square-foot space.

• KyuRamen, a 3,740-square-foot Japanese ramen eatery.

• Izakaya Nana, a 7,125-square-foot traditional sit-down Japanese restaurant and sake bar.

• Shanghai Dumplings, a 3,236-square-foot restaurant.

Rolling Meadows aldermen gave the mixed-use project a preliminary first reading review last month, but otherwise it hasn’t come before them since December 2022, when they designated the property as blighted and endorsed Ni’s application for a Cook County 7b tax incentive. That allows the nearly 9-acre site to be assessed at lower levels over a dozen years.

The big box left vacant in Rolling Meadows since the closure of Sam’s Club in 2010 could be transformed into an Asian-focused lifestyle center of restaurants, shops and entertainment. Daily Herald File Photo, 2012

Hundreds of pages of formal plans included the council’s Tuesday night agenda packet — including the floor plan and elevations, landscaping, utilities, traffic study, and stormwater management report — have been under technical review by staff and consultants at Rolling Meadows City Hall since fall.

Besides interior renovations to the one-story building, exterior site work will include changes to traffic circulation, pedestrian access, utilities, parking and loading.

A bioswale — with sandy soil and native plants — will hold stormwater along the south edge of the eastern parking lot, while the southern parking lot will be rebuilt and reconfigured. Six bicycle parking spaces will be on the south and 10 on the east, according to the plans.

The pending zoning ordinance would limit additional restaurants without further traffic analysis, though the traffic study says the parking lots have adequate supply. City officials would also limit banks in the Pacifica development as long as there are three others in the surrounding Marketplace of Rolling Meadows shopping center, where an old Steak ‘n Shake is now being converted to a Citibank.

Construction is set to begin in mid-September and be complete by January 2026.

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