‘Blighted’ Mall is Naperville Business Tax Eligible

Years of neglect and a parking lot damaged by rainwater retention have left the Chicago Avenue and Olesen Drive neighborhood mall “rusty”, qualifying it for Naperville’s special tax to fund repairs, according to the report. a consultant.

Upscale grocery store Heinen wants to buy the 7-acre strip center formerly anchored by Butera Market and is asking the city to levy an additional half percent sales tax on purchases made at businesses there for help pay for stormwater improvements on the property.

Members of Naperville City Council will decide on Tuesday whether they wish to proceed with a request to designate the property as a business district and schedule a hearing on Oct. 4 to receive public comment on the plan.

According to a report by consultant Kane, McKenna and Associates, the buildings at 1256-1290 E. Chicago Ave. were built over 45 years ago and there has been little investment in upgrades since then, contributing to the mall’s high vacancy rate and hampering its redevelopment.

Rental rates there are lower than other grocery-anchored strip malls in Naperville, and 80% of the center’s 68,000 square feet of retail space is vacant, according to the report.

Additionally, Butera grocery sales never reached the potential they could have there due to location conditions, consultants have found.

The buildings need repointing and are showing signs of deterioration, including cracks in the walls, mold and mildew, according to the report.

The problems stem from chronic flooding in the parking lot, where water sits for several hours until it can be drained out through a pipe too small for the water it needs to convey, according to the report. Pipe sizes were based on city standards in 1974 when the center was built.

Besides the physical condition of the center and the health problems caused by standing water, the situation also creates safety issues for pedestrians and vehicles, especially in winter, according to the report.

To address the stormwater problem, Ohio-based Heinen is proposing to raise both the land and the stores so that water can flow into underground vaults.

The company also plans to improve the mall by demolishing outdated structures, constructing new buildings better suited to the site, and adding new parking and landscaping.

Since stormwater improvements add millions of dollars to redevelopment costs, Heinen is pushing for the additional tax collected through a business district to fill the funding gap so the project can proceed.

Officials say no more than $4.4 million — $3.4 million for site preparation and improvements and $1 million for professional and miscellaneous expenses and contingencies — would be collected over the 23 years from the business district.

The developer would pay for all improvements, including stormwater and retention needs, so the city would not have to issue bonds or find a source of revenue to cover the debt.

Heinen is a family-owned supermarket chain with Illinois stores in Bannockburn, Barrington and Glenview.

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Edwin S. Wolfe