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Deerbrook Owners Pull Plug on Renovation

Mayor announces development at Monday’s Village Board meeting. Peapod proposes drive-up facility and police chief comments on arrest of Deerfield teens in Highland Park Burglary.

Economic uncertainty was one of the reasons told the Deerfield Village Board of Trustees it would not continue its current redevelopment project of the shopping center.

Mayor Harriet Rosenthal made the announcement just before the public comment section of Monday’s meeting of the Village Board of Trustees.

“(Gateway Fairview) has advised the Village they are withdrawing their request for public redevelopment assistance and not pursuing their proposed project at this time,” Rosenthal said. “The overall challenges presented by the economy caused them to reassess their strategy for Deerbrook.”

Among other things, the shopping center owners are concerned with the financial uncertainty surrounding Supervalue, the parent company of Jewel. The mayor said the Village is looking forward to continuing to work with mall ownership.

In other business, the Board gave Peapod unanimous approval for a grocery pickup facility at the former Amcore Bank building near the Lake Cook Road Metra station. Peapod ownership is looking at some similar sites in the area and Deerfield may be the first.

Earlier in the meeting, Deerfield Police Chief John Sliozis gave a report on crime in Deerfield the first half of 2012 indicating it was down slightly from the same period a year ago.

After questions by members of the Board about drug activities, Sliozis indicated it was not a serious issue but commented on the recent arrest of . “It’s a perfect example of why we have to,” he said referring to the vigilance his department maintains.

Patch will have more detailed stories on all of these subjects as the week progresses.

To better keep up with Deerfield news, follow Patch on Twitter and Facebook.

Mitch Litrofsky August 21, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Part Two: A more likely scenario is the manner in which the Board responded to their proposal, you specifically. The Gateway Fairview proposal indicated that they would pay for the project and requested partial reimbursed for this investment from the collection of the additional (tax) revenue for a defined period of time. Your response: “I think they’re being greedy,” Seiden said. “I don’t believe they won’t go ahead with it (if the Village does not agree to the letter of intent),” he added about his perception of the developer’s intent. Apparently, you were mistaken. While I sincerely appreciate the selfless and uncompensated efforts you and the other Board members provide on behalf of the entire Village, this was not your finest hour. ‘Greedy’ is a telling choice of words. It is untethered from the interests of the Village and the business community at large. Businesses have their interests. We (the Village) have ours. Negotiating a solution that establishes intelligent conditions for Deerfield’s success as well as all the other stakeholders involved is in Deerfield’s best interest. That is the Board’s job. And in the Gateway Fairview case, if our interest and theirs couldn’t at some point align, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Characterizing the intent of their proposition as ‘greedy’ indicates a bias that serves no one and a Board that is surprisingly unresponsive to business development. Respectfully, Mitch Litrofsky
Walter White August 21, 2012 at 06:43 PM
But he's really good at making sure people don't put up ugly signs.
BBronk August 21, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I actually think Seiden was spot on. The malls operators put NOTHING into the business for years. As a result, they lost business. Now they want the taxpayers to at least partially underwrite the updates they should have made. Personally, Im glad this whole thing fell apart. The mall is not economically viable as it stands, and the new plan would not have solved anything. It was just about moving stores around, not a fundamentally new vision. This space needs BIG PLANS and once the current operator of the mall loses the property, hopefully somebody with more vision can take over and work towards a solution that is good for business and the taxpayers.
Mark Brottman August 21, 2012 at 07:27 PM
I think it's pretty black and white. The owners tried to get a free ride from the taxpayers and didn't get there way so they pulled out and will sit on the property for a few more years.
DeerfieldResident August 21, 2012 at 08:04 PM
I couldn't disagree more. What the developers wanted from the Village was out of line. Their plan was terrible and most likely would have failed. Moving around the existing stores does not make for a better retail center. It's too bad the current owners couldn't come up with a better vision for this highly visible location. We may have to put up with crap and mostly empty stores for longer than we all hoped for, but in the long run, redeveloping this space well is more important than doing it quickly. Thank you Mr. Seiden for being a good steward of our tax dollars.
David Greenberg August 21, 2012 at 08:22 PM
The fact that the developers are pulling out of this project sans public funding speaks VOLUMES to the fact that they realize it was too much of a risk for them. Kudos to everyone who spoke up and said "If you think it's so great, risk your own money".
Mark Brottman August 21, 2012 at 09:14 PM
David....I actually agree with you!!!!
RB August 21, 2012 at 09:20 PM
I recall that Mr. Seiden was one of the few board members who also voted against the Village spending $700,000 of local tax dollars and almost $2 million of Federal Tax dollars for the ridiculous expansion of the pedestrian underpass on Deerfield road. The Village did it anyway, and it resulted in a tax increase. I seldom see anyone use it and if you do, you still get to the same place as before and can't ride your bike. Plus we still pay for these paint jobs they keep doing. Thank you Mr, Seiden for being level headed. how about spearheading some real cost savings and combine the Park District and the Village. Too much overhead. As far as Deerbrook, it was destined for failure. They let it get rundown. Not good partners for the Village.
RB August 21, 2012 at 09:24 PM
I do too! Don't agree on everything, but this was obvious and we may have influenced another fiasco from taking place. Freedom of speech is a wonderful right to protect. Thanks to all who fought this joke of a development.
Bringin' Down Briarwood August 21, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I think you're pretty wrong about this one, Mitch. I'll agree that it's not good that the Board was not able to negotiate a plan. However, my question is how much "negotiating" was Gateway willing to do. My guess is that they thought this would be an easy walk in the park, and I congratulate the board for this difficult decision - ESPECIALLY if it was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. That deal was a dog on soooooooo many levels. If Gateway was stringent about ANY of a half dozen problems, that deal was never going to be finalized. There were too many problems with their proposal that would have left Deerfield with the same cheesy, poorly managed mall it has had for 20 years. Now, Board, it's time for the hard part: I'm sorry, but the issue of the poor development is not resolved. Am I correct that these guys also manage the pitifully,under-used strip mall that is the temporary location of the library? If so, it's time to zone those guys out of town. They manage the property like garbage, and then can't work out a deal.
Bringin' Down Briarwood August 21, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I'm not a guy who is strictly against government making a good investment, like many who you see out here pushing an agenda. But Seiden and another one of the trustees took care of us on this one. As i said above ... bad, bad deal. The people who should be receiving scrutiny are the board members who looked ready to rubber-stamp this thing - not the one who actually asked questions.
Bringin' Down Briarwood August 21, 2012 at 09:59 PM
What I really find kind of disgusting about this whole thing is how little public discussion there was about it. One or two guys say something, and several weeks later the deal is dead? Huh? Was there really a chance that the board could have shown up and approved this deal out of the blue with only discussions between themselves, the town manager and the developer? This isn't a couple hundred thousand dollars we're talking about. Steve, help us out here. How about a story or two about the evolution of this thing? Who was in favor of it? Who influenced it? How was the deal killed? Frankly, after seeing the evolution of business in the village and watching what-little-I-know-about-this deal, I'm not very comfortable about the business skills of this board or their decision-making. I'd like to see more of a spotlight on them, and the evolution of this proposal is a good place to start.
RB August 21, 2012 at 10:19 PM
I'm all for making a good investment, and for spending money wisely. The underpass was unnecessary and resulted in a tax increase. The Park District is large enough for now, and should start spending less and lower taxes. The Village would be wise to cut back too. They should look at addressing looming pension issues, duplicate work between contractors, Village employees and Park District employees....stepping all over each other. Also, make it easier to do business in Deerfield.
RB August 22, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Also, what's left? They apparently started not renewing leases as they hoped Deerfield would build their outlet 'mall'. Now, we have even fewer business locations. Bally leaving opens an entirely new area when combine with I 'Wonder' what they were thinking to develop something that would bring in sales tax dollars.....do I dare say Meijer??? Would the Village be progressive enough to go after someone?
Cole Pierce August 22, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Deerbrook Mall is ghetto. Deerfield itself is stuck in the 1990's. Poor police performance and the nasty people of Deerfield was reason enough to move my wife and 4 young children.I got out and moved to Kenilworth. Friendly people and top notch city services. A shout out to Wilmette as well. I will take New Trier over Deerfield in a heartbeat.
BBronk August 22, 2012 at 01:52 AM
you're weird.
GetAyoungerMayor August 22, 2012 at 12:09 PM
I lived in DF for 26 years, made the move to HP and couldn't be happier. Things to do, places to go. Everynite downtown HP is packed. Hot Tamales, Frost, DQ, Bella Via, VIbe & lots more - I'm embarrassed for DF. Who was OK with putting a mattress store in the PRIME downtown area ? Besides Trax, what can you do in DF after 8:45pm ? Vacancies at the "commons" "cadwell" "deerbrook" - something needs to change before DF falls into the same catergory as "Mundelein" - I don't have the answers.
The Q August 22, 2012 at 12:28 PM
Greed was exactly what it was.....that's Grade A commercial space, no need for Tax dollars to fund redevelopment.
Steve S. August 22, 2012 at 01:04 PM
thanks for leaving, I'm sure kenilworth is thrilled to have you
jstern August 22, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Who cares- tell your story walking! Good riddance to bad rubbish.
uofiguy August 22, 2012 at 11:28 PM
As a real estate entrepreneur I was stunned to see that the Village Board was contemplating approving a tax subsidy to defray the cost of modernizing a private real estate venture. The Deerbrook Mall has been on a slow descent due to a variety of social, economic and technology factors effecting retail commercial real estate. If ownership did not have the foresight to recognize that the Mall was becoming functionally obsolete then why should the community remedy their lack of good business judgement. Ownership should have been building up a war chest to meet the renovation needs of the investment. If ownership chooses to continue to let the Mall decay they will bear the financial consequences of making poor investment decisions and eventually will have to deal with a disposition of a well located asset at a loss. Then a new owner will likely step in and provide the necessary capital to properly redevelop the site without a subsidy from the community or neighborhood shoppers. Ownership has no one to blame except themselves and in spite of the recent problems within the local retail sector the Village should not be held hostage to agree to a special sales tax subsidy to fund the remodeling effort.
Bringin' Down Briarwood August 23, 2012 at 01:41 AM
THIS is the guy I want negotiating on behalf of the village!!! I get the feeling this board and the town manager (Street) did not have a clue how to sell the location and the town.
Curious Resident August 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM
I'd love to see the board use the bally's that became L.A. Fitness which why would any former Bally's members go there when there was a brand new one that opened up in Highland Park. I'd love to see if they can find some of the former people that were the managers of Bally's and kept it running offer them some assistance and have their own gym. You have so many people that could use a gym that is a middle location...I mean seriously find someone to buy these owners out! It does look like a ghetto in there!
uofiguy August 24, 2012 at 01:15 PM
The Board does not own this asset and has absolutely nothing to do with the operation of Mall as a business. As a government entity they can have some extremely limited impact on various aspects of the business but they need to tread very carefully so as to not exceed their authority. One question to consider regarding current ownership is their motivation to do anything more immediately because while Best Buy and Wonder have left the center, Best Buy was not a bankruptcy and there may be existing term on the Lease whereby ownership is still receiving rent in spite of the vacancy. Same case for Wonder...as this was originally a Lease with The Great Indoors (Sears) who also may still be paying rent on the vacant space. While it does ownership very little good to be sitting on vacant space, if they are collecting rent they will be less motivated to act and will attempt to leverage their position with the Village who is not collecting any sales tax on non-revenue producing space.
Bringin' Down Briarwood August 25, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Their business model for Deerbrook is an ABSOLUTE mystery to me. How you can let some major space sit vacant for 10+ years (and in some cases of the mall, 20+ years) is beyond me. We're not talking about a store or two - the theater, Wonder, the entire inside mall and now all the others. If I was the village, I would talk to a consultant to figure out what allows them to work like that (the effect of the losses on their taxes?) because I assume, that's one of the driving considerations. Is it really possible that Sears was silly enough to have a 10-year lease on such a new concept? Anyhow, it's unfathomable to me that any corporate leader would be okay with that lack of revenue for a decade+.
RB August 25, 2012 at 02:14 PM
It would not surprise me that Sears had a 10 year lease. 10 years is right around the corner too. When Malk decided to develop the Southeast quadrant of Downtown, the Village exercised imminent domain rights and closed the True Value, the liquor store, and the small chinese restaurant. So it is possible for the Village to move business out. Now, we have a giant parking lot with tiny parking spaces and narrow aisles because the Village insisted on more parking than the lot could handle. The lot was supposed to have nice trees too. Unless the Village and developer hire an excellent consultant and get commitments from retailers that understand Deerfield/Northbrook (don't just go by demographics- hello Cabella's) doing nothing is better than a haphazard approach like we were about to get. Our board loves Deerfield but lives in the past.
Bringin' Down Briarwood August 25, 2012 at 04:13 PM
That's one of the better assessments I've seen of this entire situation (with good history behind it). I don;t know if I agree that doing nothing is the long-term solution. But for this particular instance, I agree it was a smart move. Steve, please, please help us understand some of the thought processes that went into this potential deal. Who was driving it? Who was in favor of it? What was the eventual demise of the whole thing? Is there a chance it will pop up on the radar again? What does the developer plan on doing? Is the village going to take any active next steps? Will they do anything differently? Who will be leading the charge for next steps?
Charlie September 03, 2012 at 10:07 PM
We moved into Deerfield about 30 years ago. It was a sleepy little town with a downtown area reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell picture circ 1950. That is why we moved in. Over the following decades Deerfield grew with building upscale housing and several shopping centers. But it lacked a vision and is now paying the price. Before the board votes on one more request for a tiff, or business license, they should develop a plan. A vision, if you will, of where they see Deerfield in 10 years and 20 years. Then engage business partners to come in and help bring that vision to fruition. To piece together a couple of retail strip centers is a shallow and unprofitable course. Deerfield is proof of that and residents are going to pay dearly for that failure in real estate taxes and possibly lower real estate values. Time is now to start talking about the Deerfield vision, for our kids sake if nothing else.
Rich M November 13, 2012 at 05:51 PM
You are right on the money. I've lived all but 5 years since 1979 in Highland Park (1 of those 5 in Deerfield) and it has always been night and day between HP and DF. Downtown DF tried to develop, but look at the Lake-Cook-Waukegan intersection. I have countless memories of the old Deerbrook Mall, but seriously, it's like North Park Mall in Villa Park. What's next there - a FLEA Market?! I work in Northbrook right off Pfingsten and Lake-Cook and I'd love to see more restaurants close by. But the village board in DF keeps scaring them away! Chili's, Macaroni Grill, On The Border all left (not because of poor sales either). Portillo's was going to be coming to DF (yes!) and your stupid Village said NO! HP is about to renovate the movie theater downtown too. There is no comparison. HP has the best downtown in the area, the lake, the boat launch, Ravinia, the Crossroads.Skokie Blvd corridor, somebody stop me! Even the Rosebud in DF is a joke compared to the old HP one. Deerfield, PLEASE do something great with Deerbrbook. This is the time to make it happen. Uncertain about Jewel? Get rid of them. That Jewel is old. Open a Mariano's in Deerbrook. You'll have a ton of cars in that lot. Get a Portillo's over there too. Or Chick-Fil-A. Culver's. All family friendly, enormously popular places. Done. Tax money pouring in.
Pedro B November 13, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Would you mind elaborating on exactly what you mean by 'poor police performance'? [You got robbed or something?] Understand, such an obtuse reference usually needs to be qualified in a public discussion forum, since generally the details are not completely know to all. Truth be told though, it seems like your are making some sort of overarching statement like- Deerbook mall (ghetto)--> Deerfield community(bad). Not sure about the indirect dig at people in DF not being nicer, or at least as nice as NT. Not growing up in the north shore myself, I certainly misjudged the caliber of the people in this area that I used to generalize about negatively.

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