Des Plaines Kmart, the last in Illinois, will close at end of April

Attention, Kmart shoppers! You have until the end of April to shop at the last Kmart in Illinois.

Des Plaines Economic Development Coordinator Patrick Ainsworth said the manager of the city's Kmart at 1155 E. Oakton St. informed officials about the planned closure Thursday.

"I do know it did have its customer base," Ainsworth said Friday.

Larry Costello, a spokesman for Sears and Kmart parent company Transform Holdco in Hoffman Estates, declined to comment on the Des Plaines store. Ainsworth said the Des Plaines Kmart manager told the city the store will close at the end of April.

In August, Transform Holdco shuttered several Kmart stores, including one in southwest suburban Bridgeview. That left the Kmart in Des Plaines as the final one standing in Illinois, Transform Holdco officials said.

Des Plaines records show the Kmart opened in 1975. While blue-light specials on discounted items accompanied by the "Attention, Kmart shoppers!" announcement was a draw until fading in the 1990s, perhaps the store's biggest moment came when it was used as a wedding venue.

Kathy Gilbert and Gus Ladas, who met while working at the Kmart at Oakton and Lee streets, were married by a judge in the store on May 7, 1999. There were about 130 guests along with Kmart employees and assorted onlookers around them.

Optimism reigned at the Kmart in August 2016 when Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen and local dignitaries participated in a grand reopening ceremony following remodeling. Other fun that day included food vendors, a basketball dunking competition, bands and children's activities.

The roughly 9½-acre Kmart site could be redeveloped for commercial and/or residential uses, Ainsworth said. It's in a tax increment financing district bounded by Webster Lane on the west, River Road to the east, on the south just behind the Kmart and to the north where Lee meets Graceland Avenue.

"We're excited about the future opportunities for potential redevelopment," he said.

Transit plans for the area could increase its appeal to developers, he said.

Des Plaines is proposing construction of a Metra commuter rail station off Oakton east of Lee as part of the North Central Service that includes stops at O'Hare International Airport and Union Station in Chicago, Ainsworth said. And Oakton and Lee is a proposed stop for Pace's new rapid transit network, Pulse, for enhanced express bus service. Free Wi-Fi and USB charging ports are among the features planned for the streamlined route.

Des Plaines would be on the Pulse Dempster Line. The service would have bus stops in Evanston, Skokie, Morton Grove, Niles, Park Ridge, Des Plaines, Rosemont and at O'Hare.

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  Kmart at Oakton and Lee streets in Des Plaines is closing at the end of April. Signs on the front door state the store, which opened in 1975, no longer is accepting layaway items. Joe Lewnard/
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