Carson's demolition key to revised second stage of Hawthorn Mall redevelopment

  • This site map shows the proposed second phase of redevelopment at Hawthorn mall in Vernon Hills. The revised plan would include the demolition of the vacant Carson's store and the relocation of the Dave & Buster's restaurant. The proposal is headed to the village planning and zoning commission for review.

    This site map shows the proposed second phase of redevelopment at Hawthorn mall in Vernon Hills. The revised plan would include the demolition of the vacant Carson's store and the relocation of the Dave & Buster's restaurant. The proposal is headed to the village planning and zoning commission for review. Courtesy of Village of Vernon Hills

  • This rendering shows a relocated 250-unit luxury apartment building, right, fronting a plaza area at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills. The redeveloped mall proper is to the left. A residential/retail area known as Hawthorn Row now under construction is in the background.

    This rendering shows a relocated 250-unit luxury apartment building, right, fronting a plaza area at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills. The redeveloped mall proper is to the left. A residential/retail area known as Hawthorn Row now under construction is in the background. Courtesy of Village of Vernon Hills

  • The former Carson's store at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills would be demolished as part of a revised plan for the second phase of the mall's redevelopment.

      The former Carson's store at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills would be demolished as part of a revised plan for the second phase of the mall's redevelopment. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer, 2020

 
 
Updated 1/20/2022 11:24 AM

A revised concept for the next stage of redevelopment at Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills will improve the original vision and increase investment in the estimated $252 million project, village leaders have been told.

"We're completely committed to this village and to this project," Jon Meshel, senior vice president of development for mall owner Centennial Real Estate explained to village trustees. "This is a double down."

 

Meshel and others on Tuesday presented a revised Phase 2 of the project, known as Hawthorn 2.0, which calls for 250 luxury rental apartments on the mall property.

The building was to have been located south of the former Sears location, which is now under construction for a mix of 313 luxury apartments in two buildings, retail and other amenities known as Hawthorn Row.

The revised vision for the second phase calls for the former Carson's anchor store to be demolished and the Dave & Buster's restaurant relocated, making way for a mix of 250 apartments and 28,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space.

Shifting the location of those apartments would extend an outdoor plaza area and create more retail spaces facing the plaza outside the mall proper.

That would allow Centennial to adapt to a "shrinking universe" of mall tenants, according to Meshel.

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"These are all very intentional moves to right size the interior of the mall, to reinvest in the retail (by) creating outward facing retail, taking advantage of tenant demand for this sort of space," he said.

Retail space was not originally envisioned for Phase 2. Meshel didn't discuss specifics but said the reworked plan represents a "very, very large" investment.

The expanded plaza would become an outdoor area flanked on three sides with street-level retail and residential above, village officials were told.

"This is more exciting than what we showed you before," said Vicky Lee, vice president of development for Focus, a developer and residential development firm. The two firms also partnered on The Atworth apartment component of the Mellody Farm retail center across Milwaukee Avenue east of Hawthorn Mall.

"Our thought was if we are to make this plan complete and whole, why build Phase 2 where it used to be?" Lee said.

By demolishing Carson's and repurposing the space, the plaza would be expanded and utilized as a center in the overall plan more quickly, Meshel said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"A residential project (in the original location) doesn't do as much for the mall as what we're proposing," he added.

The village board advanced the concept for detailed review by the village's planning and zoning commission, which will hold a public hearing before a final version is presented for board consideration and official action.

"Moving it (residential building) closer will make it more inviting and appealing to actually be there," said Trustee Thom Koch Jr.

Construction is anticipated to take two years and be complete about January 2025.

"This is what we knew we were getting involved in three or four years ago," said Mayor Roger Byrne. "This is different in a good way."

A third proposed part of development involves a plan by Integrated Development of Northfield for 162 units of senior housing in a six-story building north of Hawthorn Row and east of the AMC Theater.

"We're hoping that matriculates and is approved," Meshel said. "It is an independent application, although it is part of an overall campus plan."

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