DANVILLE — Village Mall officials are hoping to announce new retailers coming to the indoor shopping center in the first quarter of the new year, but it's not the only property along the North Vermilion Street corridor entertaining new development opportunities as 2012 comes to a close.
The Kohl's, TJ Maxx and Meijer developments continue to take shape, and the Courtesy Ford dealership has settled into its new location at the former American Chevrolet site, but several other properties stretching from the Village Mall to Kohl's are either developing new space for businesses or making improvements to existing facilities.
Cindy Compton, manager at the Village Mall, said mall officials are always in negotiations with potential tenants, but there could likely be announcements of some new retailers after the first of the year.
"We have a couple that are looking very promising that we are excited about," she said.
The mall's most recent large tenant, Ross Dress for Less, a discount clothing and home furnishings store, has finished most of its renovations to the former Goody's space inside the mall, but Compton said it won't open until spring. Earlier in 2012, the mall sold out-lot space in the southwest corner of its parking lot to Quattro Development, which has constructed a new building on that site and leased it to Aspen Dental, a national dentistry chain with about 400 locations around the country, according to Rob Walters, one of the owners of Quattro Development.
Quattro has done a lot of work for Aspen Dental, he said, including a Champaign location. Walters said the exterior work is done at the Danville site, and the interior work continues. Aspen officials expect the 3,200-square-foot office to open in February, he said.
Walters said Aspen normally locates near Walmart or Target stores or malls and liked the high traffic counts a little farther south within the North Vermilion Street corridor area near the Village Mall. He said Quattro considered a location on the west side of North Vermilion across from the mall before buying the current out-lot space.
Exterior improvements are being made to other properties across from the mall, including facade improvements to the retail strip that's home to Radio Shack and a UPS store. And renovations are being made to the vacant former A&W Root Beer property at 2828 N. Vermilion St.
Chris Milliken, planning and zoning manager with the city, said Fox Auto World, a used-car business, is leasing the property and is expected to open after the first of the year. And just a bit north, Heartland Properties is in the midst of major exterior and interior improvements at its property, Plaza 31 at 3131 N. Vermilion St., which houses multiple retail and office locations.
Rick Elkin with Heartland Properties IV said the company purchased Plaza 31 three years ago out of bankruptcy, and architects were hired to create new exterior elevations for the building, which was single-story at that time, and to update the overall layout, and add amenities, creating a professional-office and light-retail environment.
More than a year ago, construction on the three-phase improvement project began, Elkin said, and two new tenants leased space, including the UI Extension office in December 2011, and Kerri Morris and T.J. Morris opened Studio 31 Hair Salon in June of this year.
Phase II is now nearing completion, he said, with the addition of second floor space. He said improvements include a first-floor open foyer with an open staircase and glass elevator for second floor access, a common area conference room, new restrooms, kitchenette, widened hallways and common-area seating for the upstairs. Elkin said the company has also added a Watch Fire digital display sign in front of the property along Vermilion Street for tenants' use.
He said phase three will focus on the south end of the facility and is anticipated to begin early next year, completing the build-out of the facility. An additional 3,000 square feet of upstairs office space will have been added over the original single-floor building. Discussions are also under way, he said, with potential local and national tenants to fill vacant space in the building. Elkin said the entire area along the North Vermilion Street corridor is seeing a significant amount of investment now.
And farther north on Vermilion, the former Cici's Pizza property at 3595 N. Vermilion St. has been vacant for several years, but Milliken said a family health clinic is planning to open at that location.
Mayor Scott Eisenhauer said the city is, of course, pleased to see the reinvestment taking place along that corridor, especially some of the vacant spaces. He said he believes there are still opportunities for further retail and restaurant development in that area and hopes to see all the vacancies along that corridor filled. Some of the remaining vacancies include the former Fazoli's property at 3210 N. Vermilion St., and the former Pizza Hut property at 3585 N. Vermilion St.