Wheeling's vacant Kmart to be demolished

  • The Kmart store has been vacant at the northeast corner of Dundee and Elmhurst roads since 2002.

    The Kmart store has been vacant at the northeast corner of Dundee and Elmhurst roads since 2002. DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO

  • Village officials say the 90,000 square-foot building will be demolished within 45 days.

    Village officials say the 90,000 square-foot building will be demolished within 45 days. DAILY HERALD FILE PHOTO

 
 
Published6/26/2009 12:00 AM

This summer will be the last season the old Kmart building will see in Wheeling.

While there is no plan for the site after the demolition, empty land is better than what's there now, say village officials.

 

Trustee Pat Horcher hopes to see a lifestyle center eventually built on the site.

"That area, it's like the weather, everyone loves to complain about it," he said. "Maybe now that it will be cleared, it will be more developable. We're getting rid of the white elephant."

Trustees applauded Monday after Mark Janeck, Wheeling's director of community development, said the building will be coming down within the next 45 days.

"We didn't condemn the building, but we encouraged the building owner to demolish it," he said after the meeting. "All of the work is being done by the property owner. Right now the building doesn't meet certain village building codes so he decided to tear it down."

Calls to Don and Karen Geller, the owners of the property, and the Gellers' Chicago lawyer weren't returned on Thursday.

During the past few months, vandals have ravaged the building's interior looking for copper and other scrap metal, Janeck said. While the outside is structurally sound, pot holes plague the parking lot and area behind the building.

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Village President Judy Abruscato made the vacant Kmart building one of her campaign issues and said the village should condemn the site if the developer wouldn't clean it up.

"This is very, very good news," she said on Monday.

The store has been vacant at northeast corner of Dundee and Elmhurst roads since 2002 when Kmart closed stores after filing for bankruptcy.

The village tried once in 2007 to condemn the 9-acre site, and briefly had a contract to buy the property for $10 million from its out-of-town owners.

Village officials wanted to buy both the vacant Kmart building and the strip mall on the site for redevelopment, targeting the site for big box retail.

But the deal fell apart when the developer interested in building a shopping center there backed out, and the seller's asking price was too high. The corner strip mall and the Kmart were appraised at about $7.5 million combined, and at $4.3 million and $3.2 million separately.

Only the 90,000-square-foot former Kmart building will be demolished, not the entire strip mall, Janeck said.

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