Huntley officials: Outlet mall 'ripe for redevelopment'
Concerned about the condition and continued viability of the Huntley Outlet Center, village officials say it may be time for it to fold.
Huntley Outlet Center, at 11800 Factory Shops Blvd., marks its 21st anniversary this year.
The 278,759-square-foot center is more than 50 percent vacant with many prominent stores leaving in recent years. Its 36 tenants include few anchor stores, such as Ann Taylor, Reebok, and Skechers.
"We believe that the property is ripe for redevelopment," said Huntley Village Manager Dave Johnson.
The village board last week hired the real estate research and consulting firm of Gruen Gruen and Associates to help evaluate potential reuse or redevelopment options for the outlet mall.
The outlet mall's sales tax receipts also have declined considerably. In 2003, the mall generated more than $300,000 total in sales tax receipts, of which 50 percent goes to the village because the property lies within a special tax increment financing (TIF) district. Within 10 years, that number has dipped to roughly $100,000, Johnson said.
"It's a shame for the retailers that are still there," Johnson said. "Over the last number of years, we have unfortunately watched it decline in terms of a viable retail property. What we would like to do with the study is look at the highest investment potential/redevelopment options for the land -- roughly 75 acres."
Years ago, the Huntley mall was acquired by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc., which also owns Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora and Gurnee Mills. But unlike the Aurora and Gurnee outlets, the Huntley center has struggled with attracting traffic.
Simon Property Group recently hired shopping industry veteran Phil Whitsel as the new area manager for Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora. He also will oversee operations at the Huntley Outlet Center and Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets near Kenosha, Wisconsin.
"We are actively seeking unique local offerings to capitalize upon the potential of Huntley Outlet Center as a community-oriented shopping destination," Whitsel said in an emailed statement. "We are excited to announce that Gusto's Fun House, an emporium of nostalgic and uncommon collectibles, will be opening at the Huntley center next week, and Darna Furniture is slated to open later this summer."
Johnson said village officials have tried reaching out to the owner to discuss the future of the center but have had little response.
"What they have made real clear to us over the years is the (mall) properties need to be self-sustaining," Johnson said. "It's such a double-edged sword. If there is no reinvestment at all, then how is the property supposed to generate enough revenues.
"What we would like to do is be proactive," Johnson said. "To look at, if the mall starts to head in a different direction, what makes sense there whether it's a mixed-use type of opportunity, hotel, restaurant, or business park type of setting. We believe that this piece is absolutely vital to ensure the investment that we made in the (I-90) interchange is ultimately realized."
The $61 million full-access tollway interchange at Interstate 90 and Route 47 opened in fall of 2013. The village contributed roughly $6 million toward that project.
Since the interchanged opened, there has been much activity along the Route 47 corridor with several vacant properties being filled, Johnson said.
Marsala's Italian Kitchen opened across from the outlet mall in the former Niko's Grill & Pub location at 11900 Freeman Road.
Life Spine, Inc., formerly of Hoffman Estates, also moved its corporate headquarters into the 58,400-square-foot, two-story former Duo-Fast Corp. building on the west side of Route 47 near the I-90 interchange.
"We believe that the old Chevy site in the auto mall will start to see redevelopment in the next 12 months," Johnson said. "We didn't want all those empty buildings sitting down there at a newly opened interchange." Johnson said the consultant will look at market conditions, from financing costs for redevelopment, sale/lease pricing to rental rates.
"We believe that there's higher and better uses for that land," Johnson said. "The property due to its visibility along the interstate has generated interest. It is really now dependent on what does the market dictate for that property."