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Business

Charlestowne Mall owners entertain sale

ST. CHARLES – Less than three years after promising “great things” to come, a California-based group of investors may be seeking someone willing to take Charlestowne Mall off their hands.

Neil Johnson, managing director for the St. Charles office of commercial real estate firm Sperry Van Ness who oversees tenant recruitment at Charlestowne, confirmed the mall’s owners are entertaining suitors for the property.

“At this point, Charlestowne Mall is not officially on the market,” Johnson wrote in an email response to questions. “However, over recent months, multiple investor groups have expressed some interest in purchasing the mall.”

At this point, Johnson said “there is nothing certain in the works.”

But he said the owners were “open to considering a sale under the right terms.”

The mall has been a sore spot in St. Charles’ retail economy for years. Opened in 1991, Charlestowne at one time boasted more than 120 tenants, including anchors Von Maur, Sears, Kohl’s, Carson Pirie Scott and Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18.

In the years since, the mall has withered, leaving less than a dozen storefronts occupied.

The mall lapsed into receivership, and the lender, Midland Loan Services, brought in a company to manage it in 2007, but it continued to suffer while the lender sought a purchaser.

In 2010, Charlestowne was bought for $9.5 million by a group known as Charlestowne Mall Investments, which was led by California investors who also had purchased a failing mall property in Cupertino, Calif.

Since then, the mall has been decked with banners proclaiming “great things” coming, including new restaurants and an indoor ice skating rink.

However, none of those amenities have materialized, and St. Charles city officials since have commissioned a study that determined the best course of action would be to find new ownership willing to take steps to bring the mall back to life.

Michael Mertes, economic development coordinator for St. Charles, said the city was aware of the efforts to sell the property, and the city would support efforts to “reinvigorate” the mall and attract tenants that would bring an array of retail and entertainment opportunities to the property.

“We are open to ideas that would modernize the mall and make it a first-class, 21st century attraction,” Mertes said.

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