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If the Deal for the Plaza is Really Dead, It's Time to Regroup

Actually, it's been time to regroup since the first strip mall renderings were made public, but now, perhaps, an opportunity has presented itself

Bruce Provo, president of the entity that owned and operated The Plaza shopping center, told the Southtown Star on Monday Aug. 6 that a deal to acquire the struggling property out of foreclosure and redevelop it has fallen through.

GMX Real Estate Group, in conjunction with the Janko Group, , effectively taking control of the property, which is in foreclosure and under receivership.

Neither GMX nor Provo returned calls made Tuesday, Aug. 7, seeking comment. If what Provo told the Southtown is true, that would seem to put The Plaza back at square one in terms of a turnaround plan.

On its face, that sounds like a significant setback for The Plaza, and for village officials eager to hit the reset button on the most prominent development site in Evergreen Park. The Plaza has been in decline for years, losing customers, stores and prestige and contributing less and less in sales tax money to the village.

I, too, would like to see the Plaza site revitalized. property should be "a destination" for the Southwest Side. Which is why I'm not overly saddened to hear that GMX and the Janko Group may have pulled out.

At the very least, t on the site of The Plaza . Given what's already happening along Western between 91st and 93rd streets, the dangerous potential was there (and still is) to turn Western Avenue into a tragic imitation of LaGrange Road or 159th Street in Orland Park.

Assuming Provo is right and that deal is dead, it gives us all a of the dozen or so residents who turned out for a June 28 community form on redeveloping The Plaza. A summary of the discussion was presented to the village board in July.

In the Southtown story, Provo said he understood the deal fell through because GMX and Janko couldn't find a supermarket to co-anchor a new development along with . It's no wonder, really, given that the golf course development just to the north on Western is going to feature a Meijer and there are Jewel-Oscos at 95th and Ashland, 95th and Pulaski and 103rd and Kedzie, and a at 95th and Lawndale, all within about two miles of the Plaza. I'm not a business wiz, but that seems like an awful lot of grocery stores.

That's part of what I'm talking about in terms of context, and how GMX and Janko didn't really consider context it in their plans. A strip mall is out of context physically for the location. It's out of context economically for the times. And it's out of context historically for what The Plaza has meant to Evergreen Park, and to the region.

We can still get this right. We can still demand a development that we can be proud of, that will give Evergreen Park and Beverly the town center they deserve and need. I don't believe in signs, but if I did, this proposed redevelopment falling through would count as one.

Share your views. What should the next step be? 

Southside Supporter August 08, 2012 at 03:09 PM
I do not feel overly saddened either. I do feel that it's imperative that we become proactive, rather that reactive, in regard to the future of the Evergreen Plaza. As residents of the South Side (Evergreen Park, Beverly, Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood), I believe it’s time for the people to be recognized as the collective indomitable community we are, which will ultimately determine the success of the Evergreen Plaza. The politicians in the back rooms are the ones who broker the deals and the tax incentives, but it is ultimately the people who pour their hard earned money into the businesses that they want to embrace and retain in their community. If the politicians and the investors are given a road map that is actually representative of what our community wants, then it’s up to them to coordinate and plan accordingly. If you build it, we will come.
Helen Cuprisin August 08, 2012 at 05:26 PM
How about area residents showing up on a regular basis at EP Village Board meetings - the first and third Monday of every month - to let the administration know how we feel. Chris Clair has presented the views expressed at the recent Patch forum to Mayor Sexton - has he responded? Southside Supporter's comments are right on. Let's get involved and make our voices heard.
epsouthwest August 14, 2012 at 11:51 PM
I agree--this could be a real opportunity to make the Plaza area a place where people want to go. Too many of our developments make EP just a place that people drive through instead of a place where people actually want to go.
Laura Freeman September 01, 2012 at 04:20 PM
The nearest outlet malls are over 45 minutes away - in Michigan City, IN, Aurora, Bolingbrook. Everytime I am at an outlet mall, regardless of the weather, the stores are very busy. Combining the shops with nice outdoor space to walk and perhaps meet friends at a sandwich shop or a cup of coffee would be nice. These types of malls draw people in from all over. What a great opportunity to showcase our community!

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