In last week’s inaugural entry to Evanston Patch’s new “Empty in Evanston” series, on what businesses they would like to see fill .
For many, Chicago-based real estate firm Bonnie Investment Group’s sparked hope that the shopping center might soon be revitalized to the glory-days form it enjoyed two decades ago, and the wide range of readers’ enthusiastic responses painted a picture of what the .
Some of the more popular ideas included a bowling alley (49 percent of the vote), a sporting goods store (15 percent of the vote), a health club (11 percent of the vote), a sit-down restaurant (11 percent), a Trader Joe’s (mentioned 11 times in comments), national clothing retailers (Eddie Bauer, LL Bean, Old Navy, JCPenney and Target) and several types of eateries.
After tallying total votes and sorting through the comments, Patch took the results to Scott Inbinder, principal at Bonnie Investment Group, to ask him which suggestions were feasible, which were improbable and which were downright impossible.
Because , the grocery store that currently anchors the shopping center, has a lease that prohibits various types of businesses from taking root in the plaza, many of Inbinder’s answers were tentative, as Dominick’s would have to sign off to allow them to come. The list of restricted uses could shrink in the near future, though, as Inbinder said that Dominick’s had indicated that it might be willing to allow some previously-forbidden businesses to come in the interest of reviving the plaza.
Read through Inbinder’s responses below:
Bowling alley: “A bowling alley is a prohibited use under the Dominick’s lease. I’m not sure whether it’s a prohibited used under our zoning. So that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t do it. It means that we certainly need approval in order to do it. Secondly, I don’t have any companies that run bowling alleys knocking on my door. So it doesn’t appear that there’s a retailer that desires to be here.”
Sporting goods store: “A sporting goods store would be great.”
Health club: “We have had health club interest…I think it is a possibility. Again, there is a restriction in the Dominick’s lease. There has been some previous conversations with Dominick’s from the prior landlord, I believe, asking for prospective consent to put a health club in the center, and I think that is definitely a possibility.”
Sit-down restaurant: “Some food is prohibited under the Dominick’s lease because they find it competitive to the sale of their eat-in café area. So to the extent that they believe it would hurt sales in the café area, it may be prohibited. And I have not been approached by any sit down restaurants to go into the center. So it’s a nice use, but you have to find a retailer with the desire to be there.”
Trader Joe’s: “That’s a totally prohibited use under the Dominick’s lease. They have a grocery exclusive. We would not be able to do that, and frankly, why would we want to hurt Dominick’s sales? They’re our anchor. Dominick’s is 60,000 square feet. Trader Joe’s is only 15,000 to 20,000 [square feet].”
Large retailers: “We would certainly be very interested in a lot of these national clothing retailers. But, certainly the ones you’ve suggested, typically want to be in a more regional location, so they would look at Old Orchard [shopping mall] or downtown Evanston. Ours is more of a neighborhood use, so it’s going to be a retailer that doesn’t believe that they’re going to overlap with a store that they have in one of those other locations. Or it’s going to be a tenant that’s looking for a dense urban location, but one where they’re going to draw from a smaller trade area.”
Starbuck’s: “Starbucks is prohibited under the lease.”
Library outpost: “Presuming that’s something we can put in the center under the zoning, I would love a library.”
State office: “I have some restriction on the size of office use. But to the extent that it’s something that I can do that, I welcome it. We do have a federal VA clinic in there already.”
Current interest: “We are out soliciting the center, so we have yet to get any significant interest, but we have had health club interest, we have had interest from a number of smaller fast food type users, we’ve had interest from some office users. It takes time and patience and hopefully we’ll get it leased.”