After more than 60 years of business in the local community, The Plaza in Evergreen Park will close the doors of its interior mall on May 31.
Carson’s, Planet Fitness, Enterprise and Applebee’s have long-term leases and will remain open for business, according to Evergreen Plaza Managing General Partner Bruce Provo.
Provo said the economics of running a 920,000-square-foot retail center with few existing tenants prompted the closure of the interior mall.
“Irrespective of a sale of the mortgage note, it no longer made economic sense to incur significant operating expenses for the short-term interior mall tenants that far exceeded the revenues realized from rents,” Provo said in an e-mail. “Accordingly, the property manager, lender representative and receiver agreed on a closing date for the interior mall of May 31, 2013. An effort has been made to have a balance between adequate time for tenants to liquidate inventory and relocate with the timing of any public announcement that would prematurely destroy customer traffic.”
In March, The Beverly Review reported that Tampa-based DeBartolo Development LLC was in negotiations to purchase the $20-million bank note of The Plaza, which went into foreclosure in 2011.
Jay Adams, a development officer with DeBartolo, said in March that once the sale of the note on the property was finalized, DeBartolo planned to demolish most of the existing buildings and spend approximately $111 million to redevelop the property as a 450,000-square-foot retail center that includes a big-box tenant surrounded by smaller stores.
Calls and e-mails to DeBartolo seeking information on the current status of the sale were not returned.
Provo declined to comment on the status of the deal, but he said in the e-mail that “We hope that the efforts to deliver unencumbered space to a new owner will accelerate the purchase and redevelopment of the property for the long-term benefit of the community.”
Opened to the public in 1952, the former Evergreen Plaza was originally a 500,000-square-foot open-air shopping center anchored by the Fair Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Lytton’s and Walgreens. It has gone through many changes in its 60-year history, including an expansion in the early 1960s and its conversion to an indoor mall in 1966, but the retail center has always maintained an iconic presence at the corner of 95th Street and Western Avenue.
Provo said there is a lot of emotion tied to closing the mall. He recently accepted the resignation of an employee who had worked at the mall for 41 years, he said, and is concerned for the storeowners and employees who are entering an unstable job market.
“It is the end of an era, but all the longtime employees of Evergreen Plaza as well as the original families that made Evergreen Plaza a reality in 1952 hope the new development will once again capture the energy and diversity this bold experiment brought to Evergreen Park over 60 years ago,” Provo said. “We thank all our loyal customers. We thank the hard-working and risk-taking tenants that in many cases dedicated their lives to The Plaza. We thank our employees who opened our doors to serve customers each and every day for over 60 years.”