Another look at the plans for Charlestowne Mall
A map of the development being considered on the Charlestowne Mall site recently made the rounds online, though the concept has been on the city's website for some time.
It seems to be a game plan St. Charles can't break away from. The mall property on the east side of the city since it first opened to shoppers in 1991 is now earmarked for residential and commercial development.
It's following a blueprint that was similar for the much smaller St. Charles Mall site on the west side of town.
St. Charles Mall slowly, but surely, lost tenants and eventually closed in 1995 and was leveled a few years later. It didn't have much chance once Charlestowne opened, so it sat empty for a period of time as a testament to business plans that imploded and the delicate balance between investments and economy when combined with faltering community and consumer interest.
Shodeen Management initially pitched a combination of residential and retail on the vacant west-side property, but an apartment complex is the main part of the Prairie Centre plan now with other townhouses, retail or restaurants part of future options.
Charlestowne Mall has gone down the same path, though it remains open with a few viable businesses. The movie theater complex, for one, established a long-term lease.
You'd suspect Von Maur has some staying power, but Carson's sits on my "who knows?" list among retailers. Even if it is faring well, it is tied in with other retailers through the Bon-Ton Stores Inc. ownership, so it has a few more things riding on its future than some others might.
But let's get to the point. The plans for Charlestowne Mall should get very close scrutiny. The city can't afford another white elephant idea, and it has to hope The Krausz Companies developing the property can take advantage of what the nearby Starbucks, Cooper's Hawk restaurant and movie theaters have to offer in terms of drawing power.
I lived in a condominium near the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora years ago, and it was perfect for that time in my life.
There were all sorts of age groups living near that mall, so it is difficult to rule out any age group or wealth measurement when discussing housing near retail. A similar approach to the Charlestowne site makes sense, though it is far from a retail or entertainment mecca.
It has to be housing of which a part targets empty nesters with money to spend (that would be the townhouse units), and another part for young professionals with money to spend (the apartments portion of the plan).
Remembering their colleagues:
Allison Niemela, executive director of the Batavia Park District, delivered a heartfelt remembrance of two employees who passed away last year -- Courtney Oroni and Maureen MacMullen -- during the district's annual employee recognition dinner earlier this month.
The district plans to commemorate those two with a reflective garden as part of a new playground area for the park district's New Horizons preschool, for which they gave so much of their time and effort as a substitute teacher or aide.
The playground and garden will be located near the east-side New Horizons site.
The loss of these ladies was tragic for the district and their families, and it's a special effort that will assure they are not easily forgotten.
Valentine's with Cougars:
My wife tried to surprise me once by making reservations at the then-open White Castle in Batavia for Valentine's Day. Yes, she knows me well.
Turns out, it was sold out. And that in itself was sort of the surprise.
I bring this up only to illustrate how popular the Kane County Cougars' annual Valentine's Dinner must be at its home field on Feb. 10.
Because it sold out so quickly in the past, the Cougars are offering two reservation packages this year, from 5 to 7 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. on that Saturday before Valentine's.
They are offering other options for private dinner suites, as well.
So, if any of this interests you and your valentine, consider this your reminder. This event sells fast and the Cougars have been promoting it for more than a week, so you'll want to check in with the Cougars as soon as possible at (630) 232-8811.
Take in a game:
In finally getting out to see a high school basketball game this season, we sure picked a doozy last weekend in Geneva.
The Vikings won a survival-of-the-fittest struggle in three overtimes against St. Charles East.
For significant parts of the past 40-plus years of my journalism career, much of that time has been spent covering high school sports events.
If you haven't been to a prep basketball game in your community in some time, consider this a reminder that there likely isn't a better entertainment value on your radar. You never know when you might see something truly special like that game last week.
It was quite a showdown, with standouts Justin Hardy of St. Charles East showing he can score every which way possible, and Jack McDonald of Geneva showing if you turn your head the wrong way for a second or blink at the wrong time, he's going to fire a pass to a teammate for a score, or drive right around you for a layup.
Any way you measure it, that's fun to watch.
We also have to mention that watching the Geneva girls' state champion dance team at halftime helps you understand why these girls get so much recognition for their hard work. They are that good.