Elk Grove Village is paying $12.7 million to buy a mall at the town’s northern entrance, for a redevelopment that officials say will preserve some iconic businesses but close at least one.
The village council signed two separate purchase and sale agreements on Tuesday evening. One, worth $2 million, is with third-generation owners of Elk Grove Bowl, who have anchored the plaza at the southeast corner of Arlington Heights and Higgins roads since 1963.
The other deal, worth $10.7 million, is with the Nieman family, longtime owners of the strip center. Now called Elk Grove Woods Plaza, it was the first mall to open in Elk Grove in 1959.
The deals, due to close on December 30, include everything in the conspicuous corner except for a Shell petrol station.
The transactions will mean the bowling alley is closed, likely by the end of April, while the village takes over the leases of 10 businesses that populate the mall, according to Mayor Craig Johnson.
The village will issue a request for proposals to developers in early 2022 for a potential mixed-use development that would preserve as many retailers as possible, while adding a housing component, Johnson said. Officials’ first vision calls for a 250-apartment, 3-5 story building on the bowling alley site closer to Arlington Heights Road and a retail building along Higgins.
The municipality got involved when employees of the village’s engineering department learned last summer that a few groups were interested in owning the bowling alley. Two asked if the village’s zoning would allow a used car sales lot there, and one asked about a self-storage building, the mayor said.
“We spoke as a board — it’s really not what we envisioned to be at the preeminent entrance to this community,” Johnson said.
The 40-lane, 40,000-square-foot bowling alley, which includes a bar, pool hall and arcade, is expected to close when leagues wrap up in April, Johnson said. That’s ahead of a generally sluggish summer season for the company, he added.
Johnson said he spoke to some of the mall’s other business owners, including Jarosch Bakery, Tensuke Market, Rose Garden Cafe and 7 Mile Cycles, who want to stay around the corner and be part of the new redevelopment.
The mayor says that is his goal, adding that the village will honor all existing leases. Construction on the new mixed-use project would not begin until spring 2023, and when it does, the development will be built in phases to allow businesses to remain in operation.
“I can’t tell Jarosch Bakery to close for a year,” Johnson said of the iconic business.
Johnson said he visited the bowling alley frequently in his youth, but while getting nostalgic, he also said those old suburban malls were a thing of the past.
“This is our first. It may not be our last,” Johnson said of other retail store redevelopments. “The time has come and we have this golden opportunity to do so.”
Plans call for the new development to be completed by the end of 2024.