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Local

Burlington announces new store in Geneva, but a lawsuit may hinder its opening

Dispute flares between 2 owners in Fabyan Crossing center

Retailer Burlington and Fresh Thyme, an organic foods retailer, are going to occupy the former Dominick's at 2000 S. Randall Road in Geneva. However, construction was halted due to a lawsuit. City officials say they are optimistic that the issues between the parties will be worked out and the stores will still open in 2018.
Retailer Burlington and Fresh Thyme, an organic foods retailer, are going to occupy the former Dominick's at 2000 S. Randall Road in Geneva. However, construction was halted due to a lawsuit. City officials say they are optimistic that the issues between the parties will be worked out and the stores will still open in 2018.

GENEVA – Burlington Stores – formerly Burlington Coat Factory – a national off-price retailer, announced in a news release that it will open a new 40,000-square-foot store in Geneva in the spring.

The store will be at 2000 S. Randall Road, sharing the former Dominick’s store with Fresh Thyme, an organic food retailer. Fresh Thyme is to occupy 30,000 square feet of the total 70,000- square-foot space, officials said.

The redevelopment of the Fabyan Crossing shopping center with new tenants hinged on an agreement with the city of Geneva for a $5 million sales tax rebate, but now a lawsuit has halted construction intended to accommodate Burlington and Fresh Thyme.

“We had to stop our outside work at Fabyan Crossing and board up the property … until the judge can make a final decision in the case,” Craig Whitehead of The Crown Group stated in an email. Wauconda LLC, the owner of the former Dominick’s, is in care of the Crown Group, a commercial real estate developer.

Geneva Center 2015 LLC, which owns the former Gander Mountain, 2100 S. Randall Road, filed the lawsuit Sept. 6 in Kane County Circuit Court.

The lawsuit asserted, among other things, that Wauconda cannot do construction at the center, nor sign leases, because it violates the Construction Operation and Reciprocal Easement Agreement that governs the relationship between owners of Fabyan Crossing.

If Wauconda brings in Fresh Thyme to the former Dominick’s store, Geneva Center would not be able to bring in Whole Foods or Mariano’s, “with which it is currently in discussions,” the lawsuit stated.

Wauconda filed court papers in response, countering that Geneva Center does not hold all rights as stated under the governing agreement. Wauconda also asserted that the company risks losing both Burlington and Fresh Thyme if construction improvements are not completed by next spring.

The next court date was scheduled for Dec. 21 before Kane County Judge David Akemann.

In November 2016, Geneva alderman agreed that the city would provide up to $5 million in a sales tax rebate as an economic incentive for the Fabyan Crossing center to be redeveloped.

The terms of the agreement call for a 50-50 split on investing in the shopping center.

Officials said if the center owner invests $10 million, the city will invest up to $5 million through the sales tax rebate.

The agreement will remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2034, or until half the project costs are rebated, according to the contract.

Whitehead had said then that the collaboration with the city was necessary to terminate the lease on the Dominick’s building to allow it to be updated for new tenants.

Aldermen had voted 7-2 with one absent on the deal, with 1st Ward Alderman Tara Burghart and 2nd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg voting no.

Burghart had called the deal a “corporate handout” and questioned whether the sales tax rebate was a prudent allocation of city dollars.

“The Crown Group will spend whatever is necessary to make this competitive and the space will be occupied,” Burghart had said then.

If Burlington opens a store there, it will feature ladies apparel, accessories, men’s clothing, family footwear, children’s clothing, an assortment of baby furniture and accessories at its Baby Depot department, home decor and gifts and a large selection of coats at up to 65 percent off other retailers’ prices, the company’s news release stated.

“We are thrilled to open a new Burlington in the Geneva community, bringing even more jobs to the neighborhood and providing local residents with a valued shopping experience,” President, CEO and Chairman of Burlington Stores Tom Kingsbury stated in the release.

The new store will bring about 50 to 100 new jobs to the community, Burlington’s release stated.

Those interested in employment opportunities can visit the store’s job website, www.BurlingtonStores.jobs, the release stated.

Fresh Thyme had announced it was opening a store there in April.

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