Elgin Mall vendors hope to make a new and improved home in East Dundee
With a May deadline looming, vendors at the Elgin Mall are hoping they can find a new home in East Dundee.
Representatives for the Elgin Mall Group will pitch their idea to transform the shuttered Dominick's store on Route 25 into an indoor mall featuring more than 80 vendors to East Dundee trustees on Monday night.
"They have ideas about how they can make it bigger and better for this next iteration," East Dundee Village Administrator Ericka Storlie said. "The new management group has some very interesting ideas that I think the community should hear about and learn more about."
A popular weekend destination, the Elgin Mall at 308 S. McLean Blvd. features vendors selling traditional Mexican clothes, furniture, jewelry, religious items and electronics.
In late July, vendors received notification from mall management that the mall would be closing at the end of August. Mall management, however, was notified in March by the building owner of the eviction.
At the time, a representative for the building owner acknowledged that vendors were caught in a situation not of their doing and said that years of problems with the mall's management group prompted the owner to file the eviction notice in March.
Since then, the vendors have formed their own management group and worked with the building owner to extend their stay in Elgin until at least May. So far, the former Dominick's store has been the only viable relocation option for the vendors.
"It's close to Elgin, and it's big enough to fit everybody," Ezequiel Leal, owner of Leal's La Moda Western and president of the new vendors group.
The group wants a new home that can accommodate everyone, Leal said, adding that staying together helps all the vendors.
"We attract a lot of people to the mall," Leal said. "We want to stay together; that's our main goal."
Leal and others will make their pitch to East Dundee trustees to see if they can continue working on their plans. The group eventually would need a special-use permit to locate the indoor mall in the former Dominick's store, which closed in 2009.
Though some are open to hearing the proposal, Leal and his partners may have an uphill climb.
"This is not what we want for the gateway to our village," Village President Jeff Lynam said.
He noted the village does not have a grocery store, and he would prefer to see a grocery store in the former Dominick's space.
However, others note the building has sat vacant for more than a decade. The building's owner also owns a grocery store about two miles from the shuttered store.
Trustee Sarah Brittin said she'd also love to see a grocery store on the property. But she questioned if that would ever happen and said she is willing to consider other possibilities.
"I know a lot of people really want that to be a grocery store again, but with that industry being what it is and the market being what it is, I'm concerned that we're never going to get a grocery store ... ever," Brittin said. "To have a vibrant and thriving something in there feels better, to me, than just leaving it vacant."