CALUMET CITY | City officials met earlier this month with a group of investors who envision turning at least part of the one-time Sears store at River Oaks Shopping Center into a sports complex for community events.
Mayor Michelle Markiewicz Qualkinbush used a Committee of the Whole session Tuesday to reveal she and newly appointed Economic Development Coordinator Bryan Swanson met with the developer Friday. They toured the now-vacant Sears store that has been closed since June.
Qualkinbush would not identify the developer or business interests for the project, other than to say they were Florida-based investors.
Swanson, who originally suggested turning the Sears store into some sort of sports-related facility when he was hired back in January, said it was possible that only part of the old Sears store would be used for such a project, with the remainder still free for more traditional mall-type retail businesses.
“That would be a good multiuse of the building, which is nearly 350,000 square feet,” Swanson said.
Qualkinbush said people attending events at the facility also could shop at stores in the mall.
Neither Qualkinbush nor Swanson could say exactly what the facility would offer, although Swanson hinted it could turn out similar to other indoor facilities that offer soccer and ice skating rinks or basketball courts.
“It’s still very early, there is a way to go before we know what could be built here,” Swanson said.
Swanson also informed aldermen about his efforts to get a new supermarket to come to Calumet City in the space once occupied by Sterk’s Super Foods, 293 Schrum Road.
He said the fact that the Wentworth Woods area of surrounding properties is its own tax increment finance district is a plus in terms of offering a grocer perks. But he also said the property’s current owner has not been cooperative in terms of helping the city to try to attract new businesses to the site.
Also on Tuesday, Qualkinbush formally appointed Swanson to be Calumet City’s new representative on the Southeast Commuter Rail Transit District board. The board is working to create a commuter train line running from Chicago’s LaSalle Street station to the Balmoral Race Course south of Crete.