New owners unveil plans for Charlestowne Mall

ST. CHARLES – Changes to Charlestowne Mall could begin as early as the start of construction season next year, members of the pending new ownership team said Monday during the St. Charles Planning and Development Committee meeting.

Project Director Chuck May said The Krausz Companies Inc. wants to create an environment that people of all ages can enjoy for shopping, dining, entertainment and socializing.

The target completion date is late summer to early fall 2015, he said.

The Krausz Companies plans to keep the current anchors – Von Maur, Carson Pirie Scott, Kohl’s and Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18 – while revamping the mall’s look to include urban looking exteriors.

“Instead of one big monster building, it looks like several different buildings,” said David Pyle, an executive vice president with The Krausz Companies.

Plans also include making the mall more visible from Route 64, adding retail and restaurants closer to Route 64 and removing some of the mall, including the former Sears building, May and Pyle said.

“It is unusual to downsize, but what is important in a successful retail project is that it be the right size,” May said. “This mall was never, never fully leased.”

He expects the mall to have about 80 stores and aims for an occupancy rate in the 90 percentile, he said.

Pyle, who said retailers will be able to stay open during construction, said the carousel will also go.

Aldermen and residents alike seemed encouraged by the plans.

Fourth Ward Alderman Jim Martin said he had been concerned a developer would demolish the mall and turn the property into a mixed-use space.

“I’m pleased your group has decided to retain the full retail-commercial aspect of it,” Martin said. “I look forward to the renewal of our east side commercial center, our gateway.”

Resident Kim Malay said she shared the plans with the Near West Neighborhood Association, most of whom couldn’t be at Monday’s meeting.

“They wanted to share with you they are thrilled to see this plan, as am I,” she said. “This is the vision we need for St. Charles.”

Although it was too early for the new ownership to talk about financing, they did say the estimated budget is more than $70 million.

“We’ve got a lot of fine-tuning to do,” May said.

The project is next expected to come before the St. Charles Plan Commission in October.