City officials say the Evanston Plaza Shopping Center is scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction May 3.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz,  says the city’s economic development staff has been closely monitoring the situation at the center, located at Dempster Street and Dodge Avenue, since it the development, owned by Joseph Freed and Associates went into receivership over a year ago.

Officials of the court-appointed receiver, Foresite Realty, have said they will not be a bidder at the foreclosure auction.

The plaza has faced high vacancy rates for years, and recently lost its second-largest tenant when the TJX companies shuttered its AJ Wright stores nationwide.

Foresite has said has been restricted in the types of businesses it can lease to in the center because of provisions in the center’s agreement with its lead tenant, the Dominicks supermarket chain, that preclude having businesses that would tie up parking for extended periods and reduce the amount available for the grocery store.

Retailers at the center have complained for years about the high vacancy rates and what they have claimed were excessive common area maintenance charges imposed by Freed under their lease agreements.

Above: A workman makes repairs to an Evanston Plaza sign (file photo).

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Opportunity for a fresh start?

    When the shopping plaza is sold, will the tenants need to sign new leases with the new owner? If so, this might be the best hope for the plaza, assuming the new owner addresses the current issues (unusually high maintenance charges and the restrictive clauses in the Dominick's lease). I hope this is the beginning of a rebirth for the plaza. Next on the agenda: Replacing the fast food "restaurants" and check-cashing establishments around Dempster and Dodge with businesses that offer real value to the community.

  2. I haven’t the foggiest notion

    I haven't the foggiest notion of how to develop a neighborhood retail center. But I do know what would attract me to that center. Something like the atmosphere of Andersonville on Clark street, or the energy along North Avenue near Milwaukee Avenue in the Bucktown area…

    HIgh street traffic with people on foot who are intrigued and invited into neat places…cool little waffle shops, coffee houses, funky bars, cool accessory and clothing shops…..

    Not Old Orchard which has a Michigan Avenue in a mall flavor.

    Getting tenants who plan to open a large used book store, or a laundromat, or a dollar store, or a Dunkin Donuts, or a chiropractic center, or an auto parts chain store, will attract what kind of person anyway?

    On the other hand, why would a prospective tenant  want to locate there? It's in the middle of residential neighborhood that is equidistant from Chicago Avenue, east Dempster, and Evanston's downtown.

    The mall has the ambiance of an interstate truck stop, a place I look forward to leaving rather than considering as a destination that I'd like being at.

    Maybe turning it into an Old Orchard type mall, that you can at least walk around in would make more sense. Maybe turning it into a mixed use site, with cute homes and apartments plus neat stores, a sort of mini village within the city would make it a place I'd like to visit.

    But now?

    I think the appropriate term to describe it's desirability is "Yech!"


    1. Some ‘no brainers’ for stores

      Shoe store, clothing store at level of a Sears, appliance store [electronics, selection of washers/dryers/refrigerators, etc.], grocery store [old or new Borders buildings], electronics store, Walgreens [CVS is nice but maybe they would have built a larger store if the city would have told them Osco would not be permitted back], sporting goods [equipment not just clothing], etc..  

      Remember how good shopping was when we had Wielbots [4 or 5 stories] , Marshall Fields [4 or 5 stories], Lytons [two stories], Baskins, two+ electronics stores [other than Radio Shack and United], several shoe stores, several used book stores, maybe five drug stores, women's [men's?] clothing boutiques.  Yes several chains went out of business and Fields for some dumb reason thought everyone wanted to go to mauls, but the city should have done more [really less by reducing overall taxes, dumb regulations and generally just not caring] but many could have stayed and Evanston not Skokie and Chicago get the $$$.

  3. Restrictions

    I agree with both of the previous comments by Anonymous and Winning Turtle.

    Even if receivership doesn't permit modification of leases, Dominick's needs to ease up on the restrictions.  There is plenty of parking there, and an empty shopping center is not good for Dominick's anyway.

    Winning Turtle has it right:  "cool little waffle shops, coffee houses, funky bars, cool accessory and clothing shops…."

    The shopping center needs a restaurant where you can sit down for a while  and have a waffle  or similar breakfast items  and  enjoy a bottomless pot of coffee.

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