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Mayor Talks Development, Economy at State of the Village Lunch

At Mayor Sexton’s State of the Village, he announces that The Plaza has been sold and will be redeveloped within the next two years.

Ask Mayor James Sexton how the village is weathering the effects of the economy and he’d gladly list improvements and future developments slated for Evergreen Park.

At his annual State of the Village address this week sponsored by the Sexton said that in addition to changes made since the village’s first comprehensive plan in 1999, several other improvements are on the way that will bring in more tax dollars, put people back to work and continue to create a unique identity for the town.

In the last 13 years, Sexton said, the village has undergone a major facelift as it fulfilled comprehensive plan terms. Buildings, sidewalks, street signs, alleys, crosswalks and lighting were updated, mostly using TIF money, he said. Evergreen Park has added several new retailers, including the 60,000-square-foot  and new strip malls on 95th Street. A few old businesses have redeveloped, including , and at 95th Street and Western Avenue.

But one of the biggest changes sits just across from .

Sexton said Northbrook-based GMX Real Estate Group is under contract to buy The Plaza and it is slated for redevelopment soon. After facing possible foreclosure last July, and most recently, a company that bought the property said it had plans to redevelop, according to Sexton.

“To my understanding, you won’t notice  two years from now,” said Sexton.

According to Sexton, , the sole department store in The Plaza, would stay. “The old buildings may come down. There may be new buildings. There certainly will be new retailers,” he said, “This is something that the people around here have been waiting for, for a long, long time.”

Sexton said residents can expect more information about the 500,000-square-foot retail development within the next month or so.

"It’s a good opportunity,” he said, “It’s just getting started.”

Plans have also been secured for the old Webb Ford lot, 2601 W. 95th St. Sexton said a 60,000-square-foot grocery store that is “a very novel approach and a very hot approach” could spring up there soon. “It’s new to this market,” he said. Sexton did not share the store, but said it’s opened up at least four stores in Chicago.

As early as springtime, Evergreen Park residents may see construction at the site of the Evergreen Aqua Park, on S. Troy Ave. between 89th and 90th streets, Sexton said. After watching membership dwindle in recent years due to the recession, the park closed in 2010. Last October, According to Sexton, “Aqua pool has been bought by an individual who has a plan to keep it a swimming pool.” It will be available to residents and visitors for a daily fee, Sexton said.

More new developments include The Vitamin Shoppe, to be built at the former Theodore’s Restaurant site at 95th Street and Campbell Avenue, a medical center that will move to 91st Street and Pulaski Avenue, and a revamped entry into the village at 95th Street and Pulaski Avenue, a longer-term goal.

Sexton said the old retailers are just as valuable as the new ones, and that his goal is to “keep the green in Evergreen,” by strengthening the local economy and promoting local shopping.

In the past year, Sexton said the village has done well economically compared with other towns.

“We actually have a balanced budget and have for many years. We don’t spend what we don’t have,” he said.

Moody’s rated Evergreen Park an “AA” on its last bond issue.

“They said that we have ‘moderate debt’ and that we’re well-run,” Sexton said. “That’s pretty novel when you’re talking about governments these days. Most people are getting lowered. We remained the same rate.”

Although the village has seen many economic and developmental changes over the years, Sexton reinforced his committment to the community and said  people are still willing to invest in Evergreen Park. "It’s confidence in the community," he said.

Patch will update you on the status of these projects as information becomes available.

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