The former Sears store at the Fox Valley Mall in Aurora is no more.
Demolition began two weeks ago, to make way for the 304 apartments the mall’s owner Centennial Real Estate, plans to build on the east side of the mall.
“With the addition of these well-planned luxury apartments, Fox Valley Mall will become a true day-to-night destination,” Jon Meshel, senior vice president of development for Centennial, said in a December news release. “Additional changes planned for Fox Valley 2.0 include shopping options from nationally renowned retailers to groundbreaking pop-ups, a wide array of food and beverage choices, and a carefully curated collection of entertainment options that offer something for people from every generation.”
That plan calls for construction of three, three-story buildings; linear and pocket parks; a community plaza; and a new entrance to the mall building.
The buildings will have studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. Construction is expected to start this spring. The developer refers to them as luxury apartments, but has not specified how much rent would be charged.
Sears was an original tenant of the mall, which opened in 1975. The store closed in September 2018.
According to a 2020 report commissioned by the city, 40% of the mall’s store space was vacant, including the Sears and the closed Carson Pirie Scott department store.
A 2018 report by the city called the Route 59 corridor — from the Burlington Northern railroad line south to 75th Street — “tired.” The mall is in that corridor.
That report suggested Aurora change zoning on the mall site to allow multifamily housing, small stores and entertainment venues.
In November, the city created a tax-increment financing district for the mall. Property tax payments to local governments are now frozen at the current level for 15 years. Any extra property tax money collected will go into a special fund controlled by the city to help pay for improvements.
The mall had an equalized assessed value of about $51.2 million in 2019. With redevelopment, that could increase to $150 million to $200 million by the end of the 15 years, according to a city report on the TIF.
Centennial owns the central mall building and the former Carson’s site. JCPenney’s and Macy’s own their own buildings and parking lots.