Like many malls across the country, the numbers of anchor stores and occupied shops at River Oaks Center in Calumet City have declined in recent years.
As a result, the city's mayor has proposed to turn the shopping center into a multi-use entertainment district, which he said could generate upward of $500 million.
"Imagine a mall of the future where you have residential housing, where you have condos," Jones said. "We want to turn this into an entertainment district where everyone will come to Calumet City for two or three days as opposed to coming here for two or three hours."
The entertainment district might even feature a casino, according to the mayor.
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But there's a hurdle that stands in way of the proposal moving forward.
Calumet City owns the building that once housed Sears, but not the other side of River Oaks Center. Jones would not elaborate on how the city would take over the remainder of the mall if it isn't for sale, but did say there are multiple legal options.
"We want to work [with] them on some kind of agreement that we can take over this mall," he said.
The mall's owners, Mason Asset Management and Namdar Realty Group, said their teams had a productive meeting with Jones on Friday and have scheduled a follow-up conversation to continue the discussion.
The companies' full joint statement is listed below:
“Earlier today, the Mason Asset Management and Namdar Realty Group leasing and management teams had a productive meeting with Mayor Thaddeus Jones about the future of River Oaks Center. We have already scheduled a follow up conversation to continue the discussion, and we look forward to providing the community with more insight when there is news to share.
In the meantime, we are remaining committed to the future of River Oaks Center, our leasing and management teams have signed over a dozen new deals on-property thus far this year, on top of the renewals, relocations, and expansions they've secured with existing tenants. We are also taking steps to make any necessary upgrades to the shopping center, ensuring it provides a graceful shopping experience for guests."