Mega Mall redevelopment may cost $100 million

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]ogan’s Crossing is the latest project aimed at helping developers take advantage of the trendy neighborhood’s proximity to the Loop. Developers and Ald. Scott Waguespack held the first public meeting last week in order to get community feedback on the proposed project that would take the place of the Discount Mega Mall at 2500 N. Milwaukee Ave.

“The neighborhood’s been changing. There aren’t really any actual businesses around here anymore. All that’s around here now are bars for ‘Americans,’” said Manuel Teelo. “There used to be so many Hispanic-owned businesses around here but now, where are they? They left because the rents around here were raised too much.”

Teelo operated Teelo’s Jewelry within the mall for the past decade. Paying an average of $1,200 per month in rent for most of that period, he said the Logan Square location had been very profitable because it’s a short walk away from the CTA’s Blue Line and bus stops and costs relatively very little to operate.

Scott Gendell, president of Terraco Inc., expects his mixed-use development will cost upwards of $100 million and take about two years to build if the city approves his zoning request.

Last Thursday’s three-hour, standing room only meeting had over 250 people and featured a presentation where developers unveiled a plan that includes three city blocks of retail, a 40,000 to 45,000-square-foot grocery store, a two-story fitness center, 267 residential units, 350 parking spots for cars and one bicycle parking space per each apartment unit, among other amenities. The building is expected to be between four and seven stories tall on the 2.55-acre property but be staggered in such a way where the monolithic structure will look like multiple smaller buildings standing next to each other, said Architect Joe Antunovich.

Logan's Crossing conceptual rendering of Milwaukee Avenue looking north. Courtesy Antunovich Associates.
Logan’s Crossing conceptual rendering of Milwaukee Avenue looking north. Courtesy Antunovich Associates.

Currently, there are only three businesses open within the Mega Mall and none of them expect they’ll be able to return if Logan’s Crossing gets the city’s OK because they expect the rents in the new buildings will be too expensive.

Teelo thinks he’ll be fine closing his Logan Square kiosk because he’ll rely on the other location he opened five years ago at 4763 S. Ashland Ave. He added, however, that losing the Mega Mall, a place immigrants could launch small businesses in the hopes of one day moving into a more permanent store like him, will hurt the Hispanic community in the long term.

The mall first opened its doors in 1995 and in its heyday had about 150 kiosks selling everything from clothes to CDs to candy and toys. A four-alarm fire destroyed part of the mall on Sept. 8, 2007 and while no one was injured during the blaze, it devastated several businesses inside. That fire was the latest setback for Kyun Hee Park, the mall’s owner at the time. The market had already been closed down two years earlier due to city inspectors finding 112 building, health and safety code violations in 2005. When the fire hit, the Mega Mall had only been back in business for about 11 months.

Last September, a venture between Wilmette-based Terraco Inc. and Chicago-based Marc Realty LLC paid $8.9 million to a trust affiliated with Park to purchase the property at 2500 N. Milwaukee Ave., according to Cook County property records.

At Thursday’s meeting, Gendell introduced plans to turn eight to ten of his project’s first floor retail space into an “incubator” for neighborhood entrepreneurs.

“We think it’s an ode to the Mega Mall concept,” said Gendell. “We want to make sure those companies are unique to Logan Square, that people are producing something, maybe even the start of the next great company, that happens in our [incubator] space. We’re looking for something extraordinary.”


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