Evanston Plaza Shopping Center to Go to Foreclosure Auction

The troubled shopping center suffered a loss when A.J. Wright announced last year it would close.

The Evanston Plaza Shopping Center will go to foreclosure auction on May 3, according to an email sent out Saturday by Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.

In May, the Chicago-based Evanston Plaza owner, Joseph Freed & Associates LLC, surrendered the property to a court-appointed receiver as part of a $105 million foreclosure lawsuit with Bank of America Corp., after Freed used Evanston Plaza as cross-collateral to help finance the now-failed Block 37 project in downtown Chicago.

The shopping center has long been troubled. Stores such as Toys-R-Us, Kids-R-US, Blockbuster, two buffets, two pizza chains, two sandwich shops, GameStop, and Family Dollar are just a handful of the businesses that have left the plaza in the past two decades.

The Evanston Plaza suffered a huge loss in December when anchor store A.J. Wright announced it would close. hoping to convince the store to stay or convert to HomeGoods, but the rally made little impact.

The plaza is also at the intersection of Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue, an area that has a reputation for crime. Most recently, near the intersection. In January, an in his left shoulder after the suspect reportedly fired at a car carrying four teenagers and a 5-year-old boy.

Additionally, Dominick's, located on the south side of the center, , as that might interfere with Dominick’s customer’s ability to find a space. Gyms, bowling alleys, movie theaters and large restaurants are therefore not allowed to open in the center.

Evanston Patch will cover the foreclosure auction and bring you updates on the site as well as live updates on our Twitter feed. Stay tuned.

Evanstonian April 24, 2011 at 05:22 PM
I have heard in other discussions that TJs will not be in an center with another grocery store. I am not sure it is accurate but that was the explanation I got when I asked this question. I would love a TJs there.
Evanstonian April 24, 2011 at 05:26 PM
why don't we do a study of that parking lot use? I would bet there are more than 100 spots open in that lot every hour of the day. Or, apportion spots - Dominick's could have a bunch of spots marked and just for them. More businesses in this area, more traffic, more presence of people shopping is what is needed to help the crime issues. Deserted store fronts and parking lots make it more hospitable to crime. We need someone to buy it who will get a coalition of renters to go in and work cooperatively to reduce crime, work out the parking, and maybe even pool resources for private security.
Dickelle Fonda April 24, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Patch.com does the business and residential area of the Evanston West Village a disservice when you characterize the area as “high crime’’, at a time when the area business association has been working closely with the city to bring new life to that plaza. And please get your facts straight- one of the shooting incidents you reference where a youth was shot by police- did NOT happen at that area but rather at Church and Grey , to the north. And if you were doing journalistic due diligence, you would also have noted that the same group of youth involved at that incident and the McDonalds incident were the same youth who shot at each other at Church and Maple last summer. Are you also going to characterize the area by Bravo and Century Theaters as a dangerous area????? If you want to understand this area of Evanston BEFORE you write about it , there are many of us who live and work in the area that would be happy to give you accurate information. And do check with the EPD who will also inform you of the relatively low crime rate in our area compared to other parts of Evanston.
Marya F April 24, 2011 at 09:55 PM
Bottom line is we need Chuck E. Cheese, a bowling alley or a Perkins pancake house, but apparently Dominicks owns the parking spaces so now we have a sorry looking mostly-empty strip mall. Guns are everywhere. Evanston should have a ban on handguns and make possession of one a Felony. Cops should patrol with partners (I can't tell you how many times I've seen one lone police officer patrolling the area off of Church and Dodge during ETHS dismissal.) So, to summarize: Dominicks needs a spanking We need an awesome business to take the risk and move into the strip mall Guns should be illegal Evanston needs a stronger police presence - it's kind of a joke Done for now
Jessica Rudis (Editor) April 24, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Dickelle, Thank you for your comment and feedback. I hope you realize that from an editorial standpoint I am not characterizing any areas as dangerous -- the crime in the area is something that has been a challenge for the plaza, and that has been widely reported on. To not include that would be brushing it under the rug, which as a journalist I simply can't do. You are right that the shooting by police occurred at Church Street, however according to the police report that teenager was observed shooting at cars on Dodge, which is near the plaza. I did not state anywhere in the article that the area is "high crime," but I did note that it has a reputation as such which makes it difficult for the area to attract new business (which is exactly why the business association and city have been working hard to change that, as you noted). This isn't an article about the crime, that is only one aspect of the story, so I have not included details on the McDonald's shooting in this piece. It wouldn't be relevant here.
Richard Schulte April 24, 2011 at 10:33 PM
"As one of only two states that prohibit law-abiding citizens from lawfully carrying a concealed firearm for personal protection, Illinois is on the verge of joining the other 48 states if it can pass HB 148 this year. " Source: National Rifle Association (NRA) The United States Supreme Court issued a ruling on the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution on June 28, 2010. The gun laws adopted by Chicago, Evanston and Oak Park were ruled unconstitutional. Guns are not the problem. "Outlaws" do not obey gun control laws. That's why they are called "outlaws". Crime goes down when states adopt concealed carry laws.
Marya F April 24, 2011 at 11:20 PM
I am confused. In the sentence "crime goes down when states adopt concealed carry laws" - it is unclear who said this. Was it the person commenting on the article (R. Schulte), the National Rifle Association or...whom? This sentence is states as if it's a fact, and I don't know that there are bipartisan statistics that prove crime decreases when people carry weapons. In fact, that's sort of a laughable concept when you think about it. If all the high school kids were allowed to carry knives, would school-related violence decrease? Maybe I misunderstood. But back to the bottom line, how can we get Dominicks to give up some parking spaces? Maybe some type of incentive program? Hmmm. Give us 30 spaces and we'll all buy a ham?
thinking outside the box April 25, 2011 at 12:20 AM
I never shop there and didn't know that Dominicks reserves parking. I loved when Franks was there though. Why not some affordable housing instead of many stores? Community services: bring back the IDES office! Move the CETA office there. Put in a play lot! Provide community service centers that help people, lowering crime, and enhancing the neighborhood by helping neighbors.
Chuck April 25, 2011 at 12:21 AM
Thanks, Jessica, for timely reporting -- on a holiday weekend, no less.
Richard Schulte April 25, 2011 at 01:29 AM
Google makes it easy to do research on gun control and the effects of concealed carry laws. The studies on the effects of concealed carry laws are easy to find. You might be amazed at what you learn if you do your own research, but you don't even have to do any research. Chicago/Evanston/Oak Park were the laboratories which demonstrate that gun control doesn't work. If gun control actually worked, there wouldn't be any gun crime in Chicago (until Chicago's gun control law was declared unconstitutional). Every spring the shooting starts with all those guns that were not permitted in Chicago. Laws are meaningless to lawless individuals-that's common sense. In about a week, the shooting will start again as drug gangs war over turf in Chicago.
Jessica Rudis (Editor) April 25, 2011 at 05:02 AM
That's why I'm here! Thanks for the comment!
Dickelle Fonda April 25, 2011 at 01:08 PM
JESSICA As a journalist you understand the power and nuance of words------you wrote: the area has a reputation for crime- which implies high crime- which implies dangerous- in the minds of many readers; and you are right that shots were fired on Dodge in the incident that you mistakenly placed at the Dempter/Dodge corner- they were shot at Dodge and CHURCH- again to the north. if you are not from Evanston you may not know that there are many distinct neighborhoods in this city - so pls learn about these distinctions before you characterize them in your writing.
Marya F April 25, 2011 at 01:39 PM
If we were to engage in a genuinely honest conversation about Church/Dodge southbound to Dempster/Dodge, we would not be defensive about the violence and gang activity documented in this area. The facts are clear: there is a problem with crime in this general area which includes the strip mall (review police blotter archives and articles for the past 5 years to verify). Does the area have "more crime" than other areas of Evanston? Perhaps not. But in the vicinity - and I stress the word vicinity - of the area, there have been 3 shootings since September, one resulting in death. That's not exactly going to motivate a small business owner to rent space in the vacant mall if I have other options. One thing that has always bothered me about this great town is the fact that over the course of the 32 years I've lived here, it seems nothing's changed with regards to violence and gang activity. Why?
Jessica Rudis (Editor) April 25, 2011 at 01:58 PM
Dickelle, I do understand the nuance of my words, and I completely stand by the statement. Even a brief glance at one of the daily police blotters on the site shows that there is often crime in the area. That said, regardless of the actual crime rate it is still known throughout the city as a high crime area, hence my wording that it has a reputation for crime. In a list of reasons why the plaza has suffered setbacks, it would be irresponsible for me to not include that reputation. That reputation is a challenge and frustration for local business owners, hence your comments. It is important for me to note that it is one of many difficulties that the plaza faces. It is of course not the main issue, but it is a factor nevertheless. I understand that you are a business owner in that area and it is in your best interest to ensure that potential customers perceive it as a safe place. That is fine, but please also respect my job to tell the full story. As I said above, overlooking this issue would be a cover up of something that is already well known and discussed in the city, and I would be doing a disservice to my readers by ignoring it. I of course would rather not anger anyone in the course of my reporting, but I am willing to take the backlash in order to tell the truth.Yes the shooting was at Church, but it was close enough for it to be a top agenda item at a recent community meeting addressing challenges for business owners in that area.
jim bilger April 25, 2011 at 02:17 PM
Frankly, Dominicks is not that good a store to have that much influence over the entire property. If they cannot come to an agreement for other legitimate uses then let them close and put Trader Joe's or some other market in there who has the sense to know that a center with full occupancy is better for everyone's business including theirs...
So Annoyed... April 25, 2011 at 02:47 PM
It's the whole perception verses reality thing here in Evanston. Just closing your eyes as hard as you can and praying things are going to change, isn't going to do anything. Certain people in power (aldermen) actually need to do something. Everyone is screaming for jobs, but all I have seen in my time here is aldermen (and the loud-mouthed few) shunning business ideas with this ridiculous, elitist sense of stupidity. You want to be this Gold Coast extension, it's not! I've been here for three years and have only seen decline. More empty buildings, decaying storefronts and roads is DESPERATE need of repair. Staging a rally for a HomeGoods isn't going to get it done. Turning away sound businesses because they don't fit into your perception of what this town is isn't going to get it done. Open your eyes. In my opinion, this shopping center is just the beginning. I encourage our aldermen to focus on some these serious issues now, instead of looking into pensions for yourselves, before we head down a hole that will not be easy to climb out of...
Richard Schulte April 25, 2011 at 02:56 PM
"I do understand the nuance of my words, and I completely stand by the statement. . . That is fine, but please also respect my job to tell the full story. As I said above, overlooking this issue would be a cover up of something that is already well known and discussed in the city, and I would be doing a disservice to my readers by ignoring it. I of course would rather not anger anyone in the course of my reporting, but I am willing to take the backlash in order to tell the truth." An excellent response Jessica. Thank you.
Kevin O'Connor April 25, 2011 at 04:08 PM
Nothing happens in a vacumn. Some facts about Dempster/Dodge Plaza, Joseph Freed and our own COE government. Joseph Freed received a generous sales tax rebate from the COE when it purchased the Plaza, COE was going to give Freed 735k for the build out of Steve & Barry's clothing retailer until the 11th hour revelation that Steve & Barry's was going into bankruptcy and had a long history of getting local governments to use taxpayer dollars to build out their stores. The attorney for Freed who negotiated the deal left Freed right after the Steve & Barry's financial house of cards came tumbling down. Reading that Freed was using Dempster/Dodge Plaza for cross collateral for their Block 37 loans should remind all of us that "developers are looking out for themselves, period!". Our elected officials in Evanston are so desperate and lacking in civic self-esteem that they throw our tax dollars at the carpetbagging pirates that will only come if the COE pays them to come. By "privatizing profit and socializing risk" through TIFs, sales tax rebates, ordinace revisions to benefit a single business, lax code enforcement etc., etc. is there really any surprise why Evanston is bankrupt? The West Side TIF was not passed until 2005, though I'm sure we could all agree that the area was "blighted" as opposed to the first COE TIF in downtown Evanston. Where is the West Side Library branch that would give youth a place to go after school? Ask our current and past elected officials to answer!
Richard Schulte April 25, 2011 at 04:31 PM
So Annoyed writes: ". . .I encourage our aldermen to focus on some these serious issues now, instead of looking into pensions for yourselves, before we head down a hole that will not be easy to climb out of..." Too late for that. Evanston has already dug a deep hole for itself. It's time for the residents of Evanston to open their eyes and see what they have done to themselves. The problems are self-inflicted. "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem." President Ronald Reagan
Jessica Rudis (Editor) April 25, 2011 at 05:20 PM
Thank you.
Christine Wolf April 25, 2011 at 05:42 PM
I don’t know every act of crime that’s happened since 2007 near the Dempster/Dodge Shopping Center, but consider these four examples, all less than 1 mile from the plaza, all of them shootings. These examples don't even take into account crimes such as theft or other acts of violence. The area has a history and reputation for crime: 2007: Darryl “Shannon” Pickett, ETHS honor student and football team member, was shot and killed in the 1900 block of Dodge Avenue (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-12-15/news/ct-met-evanston-student-death-20101215_1_second-degree-murder-shot-pickett-three-times-darryl-shannon-pickett). According to Mapquest, this is .77 miles from the Dempster Dodge Plaza (http://mapq.st/hvhg1V). May 2010: Shooting death of Craig Romon Smith, Jr. at 1047 Darrow (at Greenleaf): http://archive.chicagobreakingnews.com/2010/05/1-killed-1-injured-in-evanston-shooting.html The shooting occurred .41 miles from the Dempster Dodge Plaza (http://mapq.st/eWoKVY). October 2010: shooting death of Marcus Davis near Smitty’s Garage (http://evanston.patch.com/articles/person-killed-near-evanston-township-high-school), which is .17 miles from the Dempster Dodge Plaza (http://mapq.st/fZN6vU). April 2011: shooting at McDonald’s (.01 miles from Dempster/Dodge shopping mall). This is across the street from the Dempster Dodge Plaza (http://mapq.st/eQ4HGo).
John Miller April 25, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Jessica: Great job and remember: Illegitimi non carborundum
Jessica Rudis (Editor) April 25, 2011 at 08:12 PM
:) Thank you
Lonson Williams April 25, 2011 at 08:21 PM
Dickelle, Please look in today's police report. Just hours before your comment there was a reported shooting at Dempster/Dodge and Bessie Lee Salter--who lives just blocks away--was arrested for stealing booze from Dominicks. This was actually the second time in a month's time that your neighbor, Old Bessie, was arrested for stealing from Dominicks: http://evanston.patch.com/articles/police-blotter-march-17-girl-beat-up-over-facebook-comments-chrysler-stolen-off-street Seriously, why is this person even allowed in the Dempster/Dodge shopping center? Furthermore, if you look at the public real estate record for Old Bessie's address (1741 Dodge) you will find that it is owned by a Glenview-based relator. Further google searches for the address show that it is a sanctuary for people getting arrested, including: Otis Robert Cofield : http://www.bossierpress.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=650:cuffed-for-11-17-10&catid=2:law-enforcement&Itemid=135 The city should work with landlords to make sure they adequately screen residents. If someone is a habitual criminal like Old Bessie or has been convicted for a violent crime, there is no reason for a landlord to offer them sanctuary. They are exploiting the safety of the larger community.
Tom Fischl April 25, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Here's the best part of all - do you know what Steve & Barrys mostly specialized in? Gang merchandise. I actually went to the Evanston Police Department when I heard Steve & Barrys was coming and warned them there might be problems. Having sold Nike and Starter product (and refusing to sell gang merchandise myself), I knew what Evanston was exposing itself to. Not good.
Joyce April 26, 2011 at 12:14 AM
I came across this thread when i was doing a google search trying to find out what happened today. At about 5pm, I was approaching the intersection at Dodge and Dempster. Had to pull over multiple times for police cars to pass. As i was stopped at the light, 3 police cars pulled into the KFC lot. Officers jumped out, drew their guns and ran inside. There were also numerous squad cars on dodge north of dempster with officers looking under the cars in the lot behind the KFC. Anybody know what happened THIS time?
Jessica Rudis (Editor) April 26, 2011 at 12:18 AM
Joyce, If you saw guns drawn it will likely show up in the police blotter today or tomorrow. I'll look into it as well and post a response if I hear anything before the blotter comes out.
Kevin O'Connor April 26, 2011 at 01:50 AM
Some further comments. As to the issue of crime: at a recent Human Services meeting the manager of Dominick's stated: that the Dempster/Dodge store was #1 in shoplifting and "agressive apprehension" out of the entire Chgo. metro area. Wahat a disturbing fact and wake up call! One can only applaud any journalist that speaks honestly to the challenges that face Evanston. One of the problems facing Evanston is "lap dog journalism" instead of "watchdog journalism", ironocally in the hometown of the Medill School of Journalism. Some websites even take money from the COE, Downtown Evanston etc. unfortunately, which can lead to pleasing one's advertisers vs. one's readers looking for honest and thorough coverage. If we can not honestly discuss the enormous issues we face and just as important, "how we got to such a disastrous situation", we will be condemned to repeat our mistakes, which we can ill afford given the depth and breadth of our challenges. I would invite my fellow citizens to not lower themselves to what our politicians do ie: play race, class and neighborhood against each other for political gain. When one child shoots another child, all Evanstonians are shot in our community heart. Unless, we can all join together for solutions to the biggest problem facing Evanston & the world (wealth inequality) all of Evanston is at serious risk. The citizens will need to lead the way forward, due to our elected officials failure to do so over many City Councils.
Lonnie wilson April 26, 2011 at 03:31 PM
I must say this, first thank Jessica for reporting the truth! For years Evanston has had its head in the sand, We do great job of trying to see our town threw rose glasses! We have an Issue with all our youth at every level! The ramifications of this issue and a few others is keeping people and business from coming to our town and if left unchecked will have affect on us all from Nu to the city and all taxing body's in town there's a cost to being stupid!! Lonnie Allen Wilson
Jessica Rudis (Editor) April 26, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Thank you, Lonnie, for the kind words.


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