Amid a multimillion-dollar renovation of Spring Hill Mall, West Dundee officials are preparing to take the next step in developing a long-term plan for revitalizing its entire campus.
The village board is considering hiring Sizemore Group, an Atlanta-based firm, to create a conceptual site plan for the property, which includes the core building, parking lots and surrounding parcels. The goal would be to develop a realistic and sustainable vision for the mall beyond the ongoing phases of redevelopment, Village President Chris Nelson said.
"I do believe that in 10 to 15 years, a B-class mall like our own will look different. It won't just be retail and a few restaurants. It's going to be a lot more campuslike," he said. "That's ultimately what I would hope we see out of this is kind of that grander plan."
Mall owner Rouse Properties has invested about $40 million into refurbishing the former J.C. Penney wing, which was torn down and replaced with a Cinemark movie theater, outward-facing retail and a plaza, Nelson said. Another $10 million is expected to go toward constructing free-standing buildings with retail and restaurant space.
The mall has generated some interest and secured a handful of new tenants, such as H&M and rue21, since the renovation began. But with the retail market rapidly changing and department stores struggling to compete with online sales, Nelson said the future of the mall's retail core is uncertain.
"Obviously we knew the redevelopment of the mall would take place over several phases," he said, pointing to the undertaking of the first two. "The phases thereafter are really where creativity comes into play."
Rouse has agreed to work with West Dundee to explore transforming the mall property into a more walkable environment with a mix of uses, Nelson said. Plans could include office space, residences, entertainment sites or even public uses, such as a library.
In addition to serving as a framework for the project's next steps, Nelson said, the conceptual plan and renderings created by Sizemore Group could be used to attract potential developers by demonstrating a vision beyond the outdated retail format. "This just helps to kick that conversation off a little bit," he said.
The village board this week decided to table the vote on a proposed $22,000 agreement with the firm, the cost of which would likely be shared with Rouse, village officials said. If eventually approved, the Sizemore deal would include an analysis of the site; discussions and brainstorming sessions with the village, Rouse and other stakeholders; renderings of a potential plan; and the firm's recommendations for implementation.
Trustee Tom Price suggested West Dundee first consider conducting a market study, which Community Development Director Tim Scott said would add to the cost. The village board is expected to resume discussions in January.
Scott said he expects Carpentersville officials to join the conversation since a portion of the mall property falls in their jurisdiction.