End of line for Charlestowne Mall

By Jack McCarthy Chronicle Media

The mostly vacant Charlestowne Mall on St. Charles’ far east side will close on Dec. 1 although two anchor stores and a movie theater will remain in operation. (Photo by Jack McCarthy / Chronicle Media)

St. Charles venue closes Dec. 1, anchor stores remain as new plan calls for housing

As malls and other retailers gear up for the Black Friday customer crunch this week there’s a sharp contrast at a St. Charles shopping center.

At Charlestowne Mall, footsteps echo off windows and walls of empty small retail spaces. A food court is deserted and a first-floor merry-go-round, once the mall’s calling card, is long gone.

Most of the far east side mall will permanently close Dec. 1, a stark end to what was once a busy retail destination for Kane and DuPage County customers.

A movie theater and two  anchor stores — Carson’s and Von Maur —  will survive as part of a new project that demolishes much of the mall and convert parts of the property into townhomes and apartments.

Under a concept plan for a renamed The Quad St. Charles, Von Maur and Classic Cinemas would be connected by a significantly-reduced interior mall space while Carson’s would be a free-standing store.

Out lot businesses — including Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant and Starbucks — would also continue serve customers.

A visitor to the Charlestowne Mall last week found the two department stores festively decorated in anticipation of the post-Thanksgiving holiday season kickoff. A fair number of customers were observed in both stores on an otherwise a quiet weekday afternoon.

A planned $70 million redevelopment of Charlestowne Mall announced in 2013 by owner The Krausz Companies, Inc. never took off despite a strong economy and convenient location in an affluent region.

But the company, which purchased the mall for a reported $9.5 million, was also entering a market that was arguably already saturated with nearby shopping choices.

The Fox Valley Mall and Route 59 corridor in Aurora and Naperville drove more than $5.5 billion sales in 2016, tops among suburban retail areas while Aurora’s Chicago Premium Outlets completed a 255,000 square-foot expansion last year.

Randall Road retail through Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles appears strong and Bloomingdale’s Stratford Square Mall continues to be a popular choice for DuPage shoppers.

The most recent effort to revive the two-level Charlestowne Mall, which opened in 1991, was a plan to redevelop a 1.1 million square foot indoor/outdoor venue by San Francisco-based The Krausz Companies Inc., which purchased the mall for a reported $9.5 million.

A November 2013 announcement promised a new lineup of retailers, restaurants and entertainment venues by 2015.

“We selected The Quad St. Charles project after extensive market research for several

reasons: population growth and the economic strength of the region; the competitive  opportunity for a year round, climate-controlled shopping, dining and entertainment  experience; dramatically improved access; and the strong support of the City of St. Charles,” said David Pyle, Krausz Companies’ executive vice president in a 2013 statement.

“Our commitment is to make this reimagined, redesigned shopping center the place to be in

Chicago’s affluent western suburbs,” he added.

Krausz Companies’ web site has had no official update on the Charlestowne project since late 2013.

Last May, company representatives told St. Charles officials of an alternative plan to construct townhomes and apartments.

A Concept Plan for the project was reviewed by the St. Charles Plan Commission in April and by the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee in May.

“The Concept Plan review process enables property owners or developers to obtain informal feedback from City officials and the public before spending time and money to prepare detailed plans,” according to the City of St. Charles web site, which calls the development an active project. “The conclusion of the Concept Plan review is not a decision by the City, but simply information that the property owner or developer can use to decide whether to pursue the project further.

The latest proposal would reduce the size of the mall structure, including demolition of vacant Sears and Kohl’s department stores, plus the food court and the mall’s east wing.

According to the city of St. Charles, plans now call for 155 residential townhome units on the north side of the property and 256 apartments to the east.

Charlestowne’s demise is the second time a mall failed in the St. Charles/Geneva area. St. Charles Mall, located on West Illinois Route 38 near Randall Road, opened around 1980 with Joseph Speiss and K-Mart as anchors. It closed in 1995.



End of line for Charlestowne Mall–