More than nine months after the Village of Matteson asked a judge to shut down Lincoln Mall due to safety concerns, its owner has relinquished control to the Village, providing the chance to breathe new life into the long-neglected retail development.
Cook County Judge Thomas Condon recently approved an agreement that will transfer ownership to the Village for the 700,000-square-foot mall from New York businessman Michael Kohan to the Village of Matteson. Village officials have an agreement with international commercial real estate developer Jones Lang LaSalle to market the property to prospective new owners.
“This represents a new day for Lincoln Mall and for the Village of Matteson,” Village President Andre` B. Ashmore said. “We have spent years trying to work with the mall’s owner, in hopes that it could be revitalized and once again serve as a south suburban retail destination. Now, we will be able to control the process and work with Jones Lang LaSalle to identify a new owner who is not only willing to invest in the mall, but to be a strong partner with our community.”
Last month’s approval by Judge Condon allowed the village to begin identifying ways to aggressively revitalize 60 acres of prime real estate on Lincoln Highway, just east of Interstate 57. Next month, the Village will issue a Request For Qualifications, advertising in search of prospective buyers. The Village is also creating a Master Plan for the site to ensure the future retail integrity of the market.
The action comes after the Village filed suit in August, seeking to have the mall shut down because of dozens of health, safety, fire and other code violations. The Village was also concerned that Kohan had failed to address nearly $10 million in unpaid fines and property taxes owed by the mall. Judge Condon immediately appointed an independent receiver to oversee day-to-day operations and ordered Kohan to make payments to provide basic upgrades. That led the mall to be ruled safe for visitors again, although continuous renovations and upgrades remain necessary to help the mall reach its full potential.
The mall was once a thriving epicenter for the Village. Unfortunately, occupancy has dwindled in recent years due to various circumstances, leaving only about 40 stores open. Carson Pirie Scott remains a strong mall anchor and plans to remain in support of the Village’s efforts to improve the mall. In addition, the area around the mall has continued to thrive as a retail hub. Matteson provides an attractive demographic base with above-average incomes, home values and education, as well as a prime location, as it is home to main thoroughfares like U.S. Lincoln Highway, Cicero Avenue (IL 50), Pulaski Road, Harlem Avenue and I-57.