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First Midwest Group Develops Storage Units at Old Kmart

First Midwest Group will add storage units where the old Kmart in Loves Park once stood. After Kmart closed its doors, the developer purchased the empty building. Now, this facility will get an upgrade, no longer sitting empty as an eyesore, and will add value to the community.

(RRStar, Susan Vela, Oct 19, 2017)-Cars are lining up outside a new Starbucks, and ATI Physical Therapy is moving into the same building near the intersection of Riverside Boulevard and Forest Hills Road.


But there’s more percolating behind the parcel that fronts the old Kmart site, said developer Sunil Puri, who hosted a news conference Thursday morning with other representatives from the city of Loves Park and Puri’s First Midwest Group.


Puri plans to construct three more buildings in the parking lot where he and about 30 others gathered. And Puri’s venture Boxed Up Self-Storage recently moved into 40,000 of the 104,000-square-foot building that once housed the big box department store.


He’s hoping to announce in the next few months two new tenants who would each lease about 5,000 square feet of the building’s storefront. More leasing could happen in the spring.

“This can actually be the impetus to retooling pretty much everything around here,” Puri said after the news conference. “That’s why we’re going to light it up like a Christmas tree.”


The native Indian kicked off the day’s gathering by sharing that it was Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, in the country of his birth.


“I’m just thrilled to be here,” he said. “This is part of where we got started. Loves Park is where we did our first project (Harlem-Alpine Center). This is a great area. Unfortunately, it’s taken some beatings in the last few years. I’m happy to bring it back.”


Puri said he expects to invest an overall $10 million to convert the Kmart into retail and storage space. It’s happening with an assist from a $4.5 million agreement involving business development and tax increment financing districts. Tax incentives can be reaped through the end of 2026.


There’s also a separate enterprise zone, which this site is part of, allowing developers to avoid sales taxes on construction materials.


“They’ve done a great job lighting it up,” Mayor Greg Jury said. “With Starbucks over there, it’s unbelievable. All you do is see cars going through there. People...When they get hooked on Starbucks, they’re there all the time.”


Machesney Park President Steve Johnson dropped by for the news conference. The village and Loves Park worked together to establish the enterprise zone involving their commercial corridors.


“This is awesome,” he said. “This is good for the whole community. This is where it’s at — regionalism. We’ve got to work together. That’s important.”


The old Kmart building has been empty since 2011, when Sears Essentials closed. Officials are hoping, once developed, the new stores and places of business will capture some of the roughly 40,400 cars travel through the intersection each day, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.


There’s also a Taco Bell on the site.

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