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Closer Look: Strong, diverse tenants could give mall staying power

Published: Friday, May 30, 2014 10:59 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 31, 2014 9:12 a.m. CDT
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(Sandy Bressner – sbressner@shawmedia.com)
A maintenance employee walks through a nearly-empty Charlestowne Mall in St. Charles recently.

ST. CHARLES – A diverse group of strong retailers will help The Quad St. Charles redevelopment distance itself from the Charlestowne Mall era – at least that’s what some area residents and business people believe.

Finding tenants to fill the nearly-vacant mall is a crucial step for The Krausz Companies Inc., the mall’s new owner. Krausz officials continue to actively look and speak with prospective tenants, Jay Krigsman, Krausz executive vice president, said in April.

From May 18 to 20, Krausz Companies attended the International Council of Shopping Centers RECon in Las Vegas. It is a global retail real estate convention, and networking there could lead to more tenants for the mall in St. Charles.

“All of the landlords of any substance and tenants show up at this convention,” Krigsman said. “You have the ability to get your property in front of many people at one time.”

The mall could benefit from having a destination business like the Apple Store, said Kim Malay, president of the Near-West Neighborhood Association in St. Charles.

Malay said with the right shops, the mall could draw customers from multiple areas.

She said shoppers in far west communities such as Sycamore end up choosing between the Tri-Cities and Rockford as their shopping destinations.

The Quad St. Charles also might be able to compete for the patron dollars of far southwest residents who might go to Aurora’s Chicago Premium Outlets and the Westfield Fox Valley Mall, Malay said.

Fellow St. Charles resident Vanessa Bell-LaSota also envisions the economic impact that a relaunched mall could have on the city.

“I really think that reviving that space will revive downtown [St. Charles], as well,” said Bell-LaSota, who is the executive director of the Concerned Coalition for Sensible Spending of St. Charles Inc. “It will be a slow evolution, but I see promise there.”

The Commons connection

Bell La-Sota and other residents know that the Geneva Commons is a draw directly south of St. Charles city limits on the west side, but the Commons has lost tenants of its own in recent years.

St. Charles Ward 2 Alderman Rita Payleitner thinks there is enough business in the area for the Commons and The Quad St. Charles, which is located within her ward.

“The new developers have repeatedly stated they wouldn’t be making this kind of investment if they didn’t think they had the demographics and the plan to succeed,” Payleitner wrote in an email.

Payleitner also cited previous news coverage of Jerome F. Cataldo, president and CEO of Hostmark Hospitality Group, stating that the mall redevelopment is one of the reasons why Hostmark decided to become involved with the newly purchased Pheasant Run Resort.

Like the mall, Pheasant Run also is located along Route 64 on the far east side of St. Charles.

Malay could see the Geneva Commons and The Quad St. Charles being mutually beneficial to each other by having a broad range of stores that shoppers can visit when they are in the area.

The shopping centers are about 5.5 miles away from each other.

“I do think that unique shopping experience has to happen there to be successful,” Malay said of the mall. “If they do that right, I think [customers] would come in all directions.”

Malay cited the example of residents asking for a Whole Foods store as a unique offering that’s not yet in Kane County. A Geneva chiropractor has gathered hundreds of signatures to see whether Whole Foods officials would open a store in the former Dominick’s space. A Whole Foods spokeswoman said there are no current plans to come to Kane County but encouraged residents to keep informing the company about their interest.

Any change will do

Even the addition of a few more stores at the mall can have a positive impact on east-side businesses, said Chris Lambropoulos, a manager at North Avenue Charhouse, a restaurant located almost directly across the street from Von Maur, one of Charlestowne Mall’s anchor stores.

Lambropoulos said that part of his customer base comes from the Charlestowne 18 movie theater located at the mall.

More stores would mean more potential customers for the restaurant, he said.

The 2013 opening of the Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont is an example of how a mall can increase foot traffic to other nearby businesses, Lambropoulos said.

Even though Lambropoulos sees more customers willing to spend money, he also said they have a wide variety of shopping destinations. Krausz Companies officials have said they will have to work to overcome the negative goodwill of projects at the mall that never came to fruition, such as the 2011 announcement of an ice skating rink at the mall.

Bell-La Sota is one resident who remains confident in The Quad St. Charles. She has been following the Krausz Companies’ initial interest in the mall and has watched its plans unfold in multiple meetings at the St. Charles Municipal Building.

“People are just a little skeptical unless they see movement,” Bell-LaSota said. “Once they see movement, public sentiment will develop favorably.”

Closer Look at The Quad St. Charles

This is part two of a two-part series exploring the Charlestowne Mall’s redevelopment into The Quad St. Charles and what it means for the city of St. Charles. Friday’s story addressed preparing for mall construction and what will happen to its current tenants. Today’s story is about the potential for the mall’s success and finding prospective tenants.

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