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Former Kmart site could be 'jewel' of Hales Corners

Village considers its financing and consulting options

May 13, 2014

Hales Corners — The former Kmart may not look like much since parent company, Sears Holdings Corp., closed it in April.

Village trustees, however, are already looking forward to the space's redevelopment and, in the words of trustee Daniel Besson, say it could be the "jewel of the village if it is done and done right."

Preliminary discussions are already in play between the village and its broker at Siegel-Gallagher about the site's future at 5600 S. 108th St. While it's too soon to forecast future tenants, trustees at the May 5 committee of the whole voiced visions of a multi-use project with a high traffic volume.

"We're all kind of excited about doing something positive," said Trustee Joseph Mesec, echoing Besson's sentiment on the property's potential.

The now-vacant lot at Country Fair Shopping Center is owned by an investment group in Nevada. The 100,008-square-foot parcel boasts high visibility on 108th Street, where traffic counts reach more than 26,000 vehicles per day, according to data supplied by Siegel-Gallagher. General Capital Management Group in Fox Point is the site's developer.

Redevelopment of the Kmart site may also require the creation of the village's second tax incremental financing district — in which future tax gains generated by property improvements pay for aspects of the project upfront — to finance the work. The village's other TIF district is at the Hales Corners Shopping Plaza, where Xperience Fitness is the main tenant.

Another question is how the village will manage any redevelopment project.

Hales Corners used to staff a full-time village planner to oversee such projects, but the position was eliminated three years ago due to the introduction of levy limits, said Village Administrator Mike Weber.

Since the loss of Kmart, "the board of trustees and Community Development Authority have been discussing the need for resources to become more engaged with redevelopment activities," said Weber.

Such re-engagement could come in the form of a consultant for either planning or economic development. Approval for a consultant will follow greater discussion between the board and CDA.

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