An image from the Belong Gaming website.

The largely empty Church Street Plaza in downtown Evanston should start filling up soon, according to the development’s new owner.

Mitch Goltz, of Chicago-based GW Properties, tells Evanston Now that his company closed on the purchase of the three-building site at Church and Maple in November, and already has some new tenants signed on the dotted line, or else in the works.

The closed Urban Outfitters store and the now-empty Cinemark Theater are the most visible portions of the plaza, but Goltz says there were ten vacancies overall when GW acquired the property.

As of now, he says, seven or eight are either leased to new tenants or under discussion with leases anticipated.  “It’s full steam ahead.”

Goltz expects to announce a new movie theater operator in several weeks, as he is working on finalizing the lease.

“Everybody will be happy” with the new movie owner, Goltz says. The 18-screen location will be reduced to 12 screens, with the rest of the theater targeted for an indoor recreation complex.

One definite newcomer is Belong Gaming, a UK-based E-gaming arena. The company’s website says “Watch your favorite teams compete in our custom-built viewing area, play with your friends on top-spec PC hardware and the latest consoles, or kick off your esports journey through our nationwide tournaments.”

Goltz says esports is popular among Northwestern University students, so the new gaming site will help drive traffic to the rest of the plaza and other downtown stores.

Belong Gaming will take the former Buffalo Wild Wings location.

A medical spa is also one of the newly signed businesses.

“Better days are ahead” for Church Street Plaza, Goltz says.  

“We have bolstered the area with a significant lease-up,” he notes, and the search is also on to find other businesses for the few sites not yet lined up.

“We’re definitely turning the corner,” Goltz says.  That corner, of course, is at Church and Maple.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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