Northfield Square Mall

The approximate 53-acre site where the mall sits at North Kinzie Avenue is central to any plans the village has regarding moving forward on village redevelopment plans.

To be a thriving community, several components must be in place and they must function at high levels.

If any one aspect falters, the community’s downward spiral could begin. Turning around that downward spiral is difficult and it is expensive.

The village of Bradley is looking to avoid such an outcome with plans to revitalize its commercial business district.

The Bradley Village Board this past week formally ratified the Kinzie Avenue/Route 50 & West Broadway Corridors Redevelopment Framework Plan.

The plan received unanimous approval.

If that framework plan seems like a mouthful to say, one can only imagine how daunting the task ahead will be for the village to reinvigorate these areas, which, of course, includes the struggling Northfield Square mall complex.

Lance Dorn, a vice president with SB Friedman, the company which authored the development plan, noted there are some 913 commercial parcels within this expansive development plan. And where the project will begin and where it will end has not been determined.

What has been determined is the project will be funded through a business district that will access an additional 1 percent sales tax — not including groceries nor medicine — to fund it. The new tax will take effect Jan. 1.

The business district will have a 23-year lifespan and early projections are the tax could produce some $160 million — a lofty number — which can only be used for upgrades within the designated business district.

The overriding thought is if significant attention is not placed upon this area sooner rather than later, it could fall into such disrepair that it could never recover.

Dorn said 84 percent of those parcels — or 774 of them — have shown deterioration. The district also faces a 21 percent vacancy rate. That is correct, one of every five properties is unoccupied.

Deterioration can include structural damage, crumbling parking lots, and poor road and sidewalk conditions.

The Bradley administration under the leadership of Mayor Mike Watson has demonstrated it is not afraid to take on challenges. One needs to only look at the purchase of the former Carson’s men’s store and the former JCPenney store in the Northfield Square property.

According to the district’s financial plan, $72 million would be committed to public works upgrades such as streets, sidewalks and utilities; $35 million toward existing building rehab; and $35 million for new construction.

Without attention paid to the area, Dorn doesn’t believe growth would be likely to occur.

Watson said it will likely take months for development plans to be completed, but he noted that was OK because it will take some time for the district to generate working capital.

The 913-parcel project footprint comprises 1,187 acres and there are many land uses within the district, meaning that while the area is a majority of commercial, industrial and parking lots, there is some residential within the district.

This will be a massive undertaking as Bradley is an older community and older communities, like an old house, have many issues not recognized until a layer or two has been pulled back.

Good luck, Bradley. And congratulations on an ambitious — and long overdue — plan.

Speaking of Bradley, how many people noticed this news nugget from last week?

The last remaining Sears store in Illinois will soon close. The Sears located in Schaumburg will close on Nov. 14. Sears’ parent company, Transformco, said the closure was part of a plan to redevelop the property as a part of a strategy to “unlock the value of the real estate” and to pursue a higher and better use for the location.

How the mighty have fallen. In 2016, there were 1,672 Sears stores in the nation. There are now 35.

Sears closed its Northfield Square mall location in Bradley in April 2018.

The Daily Journal’s Lee Provost writes about local business rumors, comings and goings and other notes of interest. Anyone with information to share should contact Provost at lprovost@daily-journal.com or 815-937-3364.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.