Geneva Fresh Thyme construction stalled by lawsuit -- or is it?

  • Burlington and Fresh Thyme stores are slated to open in the Fabyan Crossing strip mall in Geneva in 2018.

      Burlington and Fresh Thyme stores are slated to open in the Fabyan Crossing strip mall in Geneva in 2018. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The former Gander Mountain store in Geneva.

      The former Gander Mountain store in Geneva. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/4/2018 4:29 PM

There may be movement on the stalled construction of a Fresh Thyme grocery store in the Fabyan Crossing shopping center in Geneva.

An attorney for a company fighting the construction told Kane County Judge David Akemann on Wednesday the two sides are talking about settling the dispute, and that they may have something to present at their Jan. 25 court date.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Remodeling of the former Dominick's grocery store space is supposed to be well underway.

Work started in September. But the owner of another lot in the center sued, saying the owner of the old Dominick's store lot doesn't have the authority to do the work. It got a temporary restraining order to halt construction.

That owner, Geneva 2015 LLC, owns the Gander Mountain building, just to the south.

When the shopping center at Fabyan Parkway and Randall Road was built, Venture LLC owned what is now the Gander Mountain lot. Joe Keim Land Corp. owned the other four lots.

Over the years, Keim sold its lots. Wauconda LLC has owned the parcel on which the former Dominick's and a smaller store sat for 11 years. Other entities own the other parcels. Wauconda LLC received a sales tax incentive from the city to split the space into Fresh Thyme and Burlington stores.

Geneva 2015 LLC bought the former Venture LLC lot about three years ago.

Geneva 2015 contends anyone who wants to remodel the former Dominick's needs its permission under the terms of a 1993 agreement between Venture and Keim. Venture was labeled a "major operator" of the shopping center, with rights about what else moved to the center and how it looked.

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The agreement, for example, prohibited stores that sold liquor unless they were grocery stores of at least 45,000 square feet. It also prohibited restaurants, bars and taverns on some of the lots, and it had a clause for design approval, so there would be "architectural harmony."

It contends Wauconda LLC is not an authorized agent and has no ability to even ask to do the construction. And, it says, to become an authorized agent, Wauconda LLC would need to get permission from the other landowners or from Geneva 2015.

Geneva 2015 said having Fresh Thyme there could affect Geneva 2015's ability to sign a lease with a major grocer for its property, according to the lawsuit. But since the suit was filed, it has lined up a tenant, an At Home home furnishings store.

Wauconda LLC disagrees. In part, it argues some of the rights are no longer valid, because Venture LLC and its successors didn't use them.

For example, on the design issue, Wauconda LLC notes stores in the shopping center have always had individual designs; Gander Mountain's look did not match that of Dominick's, Best Buy or any of the other stores.

Representatives from Geneva 2015 and Wauconda LLC would not comment on the proceedings.

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