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City Wants Alternatives for Charlestowne Mall

St. Charles officials will pay a consultant to look at what other possible uses there are for the East Main Street property.

City officials appears are growing more impatient as, they say, promises from owners to rehab the Charlestowne Mall go unfulfilled.

On Monday, a committee approved funding for a study that will look at the retail market for the mall area and possibly find suitable alternative uses that the aging shopping center property.

The market study and examination, which is expected to cost a total of $35,000, is needed to determine if the City Council has options when it comes to the property and what those are, Mayor Don DeWitte told the committee Monday. 

The owner, a California-based investment group, has been “inactive” in fulfilling on promises made regarding updating and remodeling what has become a “very distressed piece of property,” DeWitte said.

“I’m not willing to let it fade away,” he added.

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Since ownership changed hands in 2010, the already-struggling mall has since seen the vacancy rate climb. Strong sales at a few anchor stores, including and Kohl’s, make for an oddity in what has otherwise become a largely vacant shopping center.

The city sees pushing forward with the study now as fortunate timing.
In May, the City Council approved a contract to develop a new Comprehensive Plan for land use and development within St. Charles. An understanding of other, possibly better uses for the Charlestowne property could inform how the lays out the land use for that part of the city.

“What if another developer came to us with a contrary proposal and needed our help to this present owner that he had a better idea?” DeWitte said.

Having a better understanding of what that retail area could support, even if the market conditions change, is important for creating options for the council, DeWitte said.

Chris Aiston, the city’s economic development director, said that the “status quo” for the mall is not acceptable. Aiston, who presented the study proposal to the committee, called for a proactive approach and said the study would provide information about where the mall could go from here.

“From my perspective, the ownership is dragging their feet.”

According to a letter from consultant Melaniphy and Associates, the study will examine the spending trends affecting the mall, the retail performance in St. Charles and what area competitions, including Randall Road shopping centers, have siphoned business away from Charlestowne.

The study, which is expected to take about nine weeks to complete, also will specifically probe Charlestowne’s current tenants, its current performance and the alternatives possible.

“One of the alternatives is, always, to knock it all down. Nobody wants to hear that what that’s an alternative,” said John Melaniphy, president of the consulting firm. Finding another use for the existing building also remains on the table.

 

Jay Thomas April 10, 2012 at 06:26 AM
Unless the City is prepared to use Eminent Domain to purchase the mall property, it is not in any position to force the mall owners to do anything. In this case, Mayor DeWitte is like a dog whose bark is worse than his bite as is Chris Aiston. If the City wants to spend taxpayer money to do a study that may not ever have any real value, that is their option; but this is not just one study, it is two because there are two separate consultants being hired with no coordination between the two. Mr. Melaniphy's consulting firm is getting most of the money and his part of the study will probably have the most validity, given his credentials; but the effort may well be for naught.
Elizabeth R April 10, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Plus how long have these owners had the property, 2 yrs yet in the Mayor and Aiston's opinion they aren't moving fast enough in a terrible economy but we gave extentsions and pity for 4 years to the First St developers, and we do so with Lexington Homes for even longer and others as well and they aren't out in public ripping any of them them with negative comments. Their comments surely aren't a way to heal the poor relationship, it only makes it impossible to heal. Now you go around them and do this study to anger them even further instead of reaching out to calm the situation. Makes no sense at all. The City leadership needs to change and fast!!
Karin R April 10, 2012 at 01:46 PM
I saw this story and was not happy!! First of all - if the PUBLIC owners are not talking to the city - WHY are we spending $35k (a new teachers salary, a police officer, a 911 dispatcher, etc) to do a study that THEY DO NOT WANT!!! The government needs to stay out of the public issues. It will work itself out - without any help!! Spend the money were it is WANTED!!
Holy Moly!!! April 10, 2012 at 02:20 PM
This all suddenly leaves me wondering....who are they hiring to do this $35k study? Possibly cronies with benefits?
margie April 10, 2012 at 02:23 PM
I love the fact that the City of Saint Charles is taking a proactive stance- as they should- the mall is a depressing- eye sore and the city is capturing very little taxes from a property that sits mostly vacant . The residents deserve better than a city filled with dollar stores.
Tim Lavin April 10, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Agree with Margie, this property can not go on like this, drags the city down. The malls location hampers it, along with the areas it pulls from demographic. I applaud the city for trying to get something done there. Not sure about the options thay have though........New exciting stores may help but im sure those business's would be very leary due to the ghost town that place is.
Linda Wineinger Davis April 10, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I will tell you for free, the Mall Owners do not care what the city wants to have happen.
robert poznanski April 10, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Its kind of telling, that the anchor stores, still there, by the way, are doing well, as is the movie venue, so,the question is, what is "really", going on? It cant be because of "aggressive marketing ",or a interest in making a real effort, with successful outcomes, is it? It seems to be the" old song", of purchasing a property to gain the tax advantages, and write offs, without any thought, or caring, if the property is successful, or not! Its the corporate way! The existing anchors, are kind of powerless, to do anything,other than, finally abandoning, "the sinking ship!" Lets hope not!
Mark Bukovsky April 10, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Bob, You are wrong about these guys. There are always two sides. I'll be happy to discuss further but I won't put it in writing. Stop by the mini golf store and inquire and I will be happy to tell you who treats me and my business with respect and tries to help me and who makes it more difficult.
Nick Swedberg (Editor) April 10, 2012 at 04:50 PM
@Tim—It will be interesting to see exactly what options the study finds. I've heard a couple of ideas tossed around already ... including a college or university extension.
Steve Swanson April 10, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Twenty-some years ago, the City had a mall that was doing fairly well; but when a developer came along wanting to build a bigger mall, the City got dollar signs in their eyes thinking about the increased property taxes and the increased sales tax revenue. Well, the smaller mall died, which has happened repeatedly in such a scenario, and the larger one ultimately had problems because the area population was not large enough to support Charlestowne Mall as well as Fox Valley, Springhill, and Stratford Square. The time for a study should have been way back then before the City gave its blessing to Charlestowne Mall. Anybody with any knowledge of retail business and shopping centers knew then that what has occurred would occur. The problems of today were caused by the City's greed in the past.
Mary April 10, 2012 at 09:35 PM
That mall never caught on, and I don't understand why not. It is a beautiful mall and was a very friendly place to shop once upon a time. I miss being able to go there and shop.
Ralf April 10, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I'm happy. It's about time the city does something. I think they might be a tad late now. They should have done it before CJ banks closed. A lot of stores left after that. But I really dislike the malld owners. "Great things" have been happening for a year now. And there's nothing new but store closings. The as to the mall being turned into something else? I don't think so. Von Maur and another anchor own it's properties. You can't force them to leave. I love this mall. I really do. I'd hate for it to go away. St. Charles can't have two unsuccessful malls. We should have Charlestowne become an example for other places that have come around to being a great place to go in a bad economy. The mall should stay. Comments on the future of the mall? Or anything?
felicite April 11, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I agree with Robert's assessment that the property is a tax advantage of some kind. That and for stores to get the start-up financing is difficult these days with the current business climate. I don't know if there is anything that can be done about that fact. AND The successful anchor stores that are in there are all department stores: Carsons, Kohls and Von Maur - I see people in those all the time... I think we need more department stores! On Saturday night there were people in the mall walking all over, plenty of "Foot traffic" with hardly any place to shop except the shoe stores and American Eagle. Ditto on the ex-mall site on 38 and Randall! They should do something about that first. Personally I would like to know exactly WHAT is going on here.
Steve Swanson April 11, 2012 at 02:43 PM
The City is worried about Charlestowne Mall because of declining sales tax revenue; they should be worried about the old St. Charles Mall property because of ZERO sales tax revenue. Maybe they should have a study done to see what should be done with that property before they start worrying about Charlestowne Mall.
patgeneva April 14, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Why not put the proposed indoor golf driving range here instead of Tyler Road. This would increase evening foot traffic. Interesting setting options with higher visibility.
Theresa April 16, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Instead of doing a study just ask the people I thin we need to bring in High End shops and mix them with affordable merchandise its a win win ...instead of building a bridge we need to purchase the mall... and do what the people want. ( I want an indoor mall )
Neal August 16, 2012 at 04:46 PM
The city needs to look at what Mount Prospect did with Randhurst Mall! St Charles needs more entertainment and food venues. Downtown Naperville is another good example.

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