When several big box stores announced they would be closing in Chicago’s south suburban Matteson, the mayor and village officials got busy creating an innovative and sustainable economic solution. Now they hope to make Matteson an economic hub for businesses and a destination place for residents.
A press conference was held recently with The Lord Companies LLC, U.S. Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Illinois State Senator Michael Hastings, Illinois State Representative Debbie Meyers-Martin, the Matteson Village Board, community leaders and Matteson residents to announce its economic successes and plans for a major new development.
A master redevelopment plan for the 60 acre site, southeast of U.S. 30 and Cicero Avenue, was a top priority of Matteson Village President Sheila Chalmers-Currin upon being sworn into office in May of 2017. The redevelopment project called, Market Square Crossing, will offer significant commercial businesses, residential (townhome/condominiums), recreational facilities, entertainment and pedestrian paths.
The Lord Companies LLC of Chicago had been hired earlier this year by the Village of Matteson to coordinate the entire plan. The Lord Cos. will market the plan that is being divided into 14 lots. “Market Square crossing will be diverse forms of economic development that will bolster the viability of not only Matteson, but also the southland region,” says president Chalmers-Currin.
The redevelopment plan outlines housing units (townhomes/condominiums) built into four-story buildings with commercial use at the ground levels. The redevelopment plan also calls for entertainment uses such as live theater performance, concerts as well as indoor/outdoor sports tournaments.
“I am impressed by the focus planning and actions of the President Chalmers-Currin and her administration. Matteson is now the example of how municipalities should monitor and adapt to the ever changing consumer shopping trends. Market Square Crossing will have a positive impact on the southland region’s economy. This is an exciting time for us here in Southern Cook County.” says Representative Meyers-Martin.
Matteson officials knew the retail industry was changing and in order for the community to remain viable and attractive to residents and businesses, it had to think outside of the box. It also had to be proactive as it recognized traditional retail stores as we know them will never be the same. Mayor Sheila Chalmers-Currin said, “When you talk about what has changed overall, it is what has changed in retail?”
Although both Target and Toys R Us have now gone, Sam’s Club reopened repurposed as a regional fulfillment center for online orders. It would seem the village lost more than it gained until one considers the economic contribution to the region.
The new e-commerce fulfillment center employs approximately 70 employees on a permanent basis—80 less than the Sam’s store did with a total of 150 during peak season. So, what makes this a success story—the increased sales taxes. Chalmers-Currin said, “When we just had Sam’s Club, that was locally right around the community. Now it goes out 200 miles and we are getting those regional sales taxes.”
Matteson officials also succeeded in bringing a major grocery store chain to the region. A soon to be opened 75,000 square foot Pete’s Fresh Market will open in Matteson Plaza. When the Dominick’s stores left the Chicago area five years ago, Matteson was left without a major full-line grocery store. The Village trustees approved an economic incentive agreement with Pete’s in January 2018 with public-private partnership funds to renovate the space.
The new Pete’s Fresh Market will occupy the southwest corner of U.S. 30 and Governors Highway/Crawford Avenue. A rendering of the soon to be opened Pete’s Fresh Market was on display in the Village Hall Chamber at the press conference.
During an interview with the Chicago Crusader, Chalmers-Currin, The Lord Companies LLC President Keith Edward Lord, Architect Christopher Payne, Village of Matteson Economic Development Director Benjamin Wilson and The Lord Companies LLC Broker Gina M. Caruso described in greater detail the redevelopment project.
The goal was to do a totally new project from the ground up. The Lincoln Mall was razed two years ago. The redevelopment team will create a destination for the Village of Matteson with amenities for the residents, jobs within the community, resulting in more tax dollars. Lord described it as “wanting to bring a dinosaur site back to life.”
New townhome residents and hotels are planned for the multi-use 60-acre site. One entire area on the south end of the redevelopment will be dedicated to sports facilities. They would like it to be the home of a regional sports attraction that is not limited to one particular sport.
“If a community creates good sports facilities, it will draw people from neighboring states. People that play club sports will travel to neighboring states to compete and that draws in income, it brings in income from other communities, as well. Hotel room nights share in the increased revenue and so the idea again is to create a fun destination place,” said Lord.
A dedicated two acre public square will be in the center of Market Square Crossing. The public square can be used for farmer’s markets and art fairs, as well as other types of activities with a central focus on community.
Using an outdoor water feature as a backdrop, the developers plan to create a community outdoor arts area—a type of outdoor concert theater similar to Ravinia in Highland Park, Illinois or the now closed historic Popular Creek Music Theater in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
Payne said he designed it to be easily navigated through as a continuation of the neighborhood feel. “I planned a traditional neighborhood with a grid pattern of streets that allows easy access through to all the development areas.”