Enough appeal? Elgin Mall move to old East Dundee Dominick's gets planners' support, not mayor's
With the clock ticking on a lease that's about to expire, owners of the Elgin Mall got one step closer to making East Dundee their new home.
Members of the village's planning, zoning and historic commission Thursday recommended approval of a special-use permit and a zoning category to allow for the indoor mall. Village trustees could vote on the proposal as early as Feb. 20.
A popular weekend destination, the Elgin Mall, currently at 308 S. McLean Blvd., in Elgin, attracts thousands who shop for traditional religious items, clothes, furniture, boots, jewelry and electronics. The mall's lease, however, expires this spring.
Owners of the Elgin Mall Group hope to transform the shuttered Dominick's store on Dundee Avenue in East Dundee into the new home for the mall.
"We think that this would be a wonderful, wonderful asset to the community," said Dan Shapiro, an attorney for the Elgin Mall Group, adding the mall would be a boost to the struggling strip mall at Dundee Avenue and Route 72.
East Dundee Village President Jeff Lynam, however, isn't so sure.
"This business does not enhance the appeal of East Dundee and therefore will not benefit her citizens," Lynam said Friday. "In addition, the proprietors have made contentions that I feel cannot be substantiated."
Owners of the Elgin Mall Group have estimated the mall's total revenue at $12.5 million annually, which could mean as much as $200,000 in sales tax revenue for the village. Lynam questioned how the mall, open four days a week, could generate that much in sales revenue each year.
"It's a futile attempt to plant dollar signs in the eyes of (village) board members," he said Friday. "I find it offensive."
Owners of the Elgin Mall Group on Thursday noted many of the mall vendors have been in business since the mall opened 20 years ago and have a loyal customer base.
Rosa Leal, a mall co-owner whose shop sells traditional Western wear, said the synergy of having multiple vendors under one roof contributes to the mall's success. Mall owners said they anticipate 87 vendors would follow them to the East Dundee location.
"We help each other by bringing more customers," she told the village's planning, zoning and historic commission Thursday. "For me, it's been very successful. And for people inside the Elgin Mall, it's also been very successful. They want to continue."
Though some village trustees contacted Friday declined to say how they'll vote on the issue, some said the additional sales tax would benefit the village, especially as it looks for ways to fulfill its police pension obligations. Village trustees recently approved a property tax increase to help cover part of its police pension liability.
"Admittedly, in my head, I'm thinking retail sounds great because that will bring in sales tax," Trustee Sarah Brittin said.
Owners of the East Dundee strip mall say they plan to spend $4.5 million to give the retail center a facelift.
"I'd like to know how a $4 million investment in a defunct building does not increase the appeal," Trustee Scott Kunze said Friday, referring to Lynam's opposition.
Elgin Mall Group owners say a new location would be structured differently than the Elgin location. Instead of cloth partitions and open storefronts, the East Dundee location would have walled-in shops and adhere to design standards covering flooring, paint colors and storage, the owners have said. They also suggested vendors wishing to expand their operations could take up other vacant space within the strip mall.
"The space we're looking (at) has been closed for many, many years," Leal said, referring to the shuttered Dominick's store. "I can't see why someone here wouldn't be interested in bringing this place to life."