Plan would add room for another 80 stores at Aurora outlet mall
By Stephanie Lulay email@example.com October 16, 2013 6:32PM
An Aurora police officer directs traffic along Farnsworth Avenue outside the entrance to Chicago Premium Outlets on Thursday, November 22, 2012. The mall needed overflow lots it had secured to accommodate the heavy traffic for its Midnight Madness sale. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 18, 2013 7:42AM
AURORA — Twelve years after proprietors first pitched what would become Aurora’s successful outlet mall, the same team is planning a serious expansion.
Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora plans to add about 294,000 square feet of new retail space — enough for 80 new stores — by 2015, outlet mall owners said,
Simon Properties, the group that owns Aurora’s outlet mall, plans to break ground on the expansion project in May 2014 and open in spring 2015, said Sandy Stein, a Chicago-based attorney representing Simon Property Group.
John Villapiano, senior development manager at Simon Property Group, said the large company is in the process of taking “second looks” to expand Simon’s most successful properties.
“Chicago (Aurora) was the next one in line for us,” Villapiano said. “We are very, very excited to be here.”
Under the plan, the mall at Farnsworth Avenue and Bilter Road would expand to a neighboring 45-acre site just east of the current outlet mall. Aurora officials plan to rezone the land from industrial use to a retail center use, and the expansion would be located in Tax Increment Financing District 8.
About 120 stores are currently located at Chicago Premium Outlets. The existing 438,000-square-foot outlet mall was developed on a 59-acre development site with 80 acres of wetlands property. If approved, the Chicago Premium Outlets expansion would make the new mall a 730,000-square-foot facility.
The expansion would also add another 1,743 parking spots to the mall’s existing 2,190 parking spots, said Greg Wolterstorff, director of natural resources at V3 Companies, a civil engineering firm.
In an effort to maximize the amount of parking stalls, Simon wants the city to grant permission to install 8 1/2 -foot parking spots, although current city ordinance requires 9-foot parking stalls. The existing spots at the outlet mall are 8 1/2 -foot spots.
“We do know that there will be more traffic, there’s no doubt about that,” Wolterstorff said. But the smaller spots will allow Simon to install more parking stalls, he said.
Mayor Tom Weisner said that the plan to maximize parking spots at the outlet mall, where parking is sometimes an issue, is a good solution.
The expansion will transform a vacant industrial facility into a thriving outlet mall space, Stein said. The former Sealmaster Bearings plant at the site closed in 2007.
Weisner asked Simon representatives if they had discussed the expansion, which neighbors the I-88 Farnsworth North exit, with the Illinois Tollway Authority.
Wolterstorff said Simon’s planning team has not been in contact with tollway officials. A tollway representative attended Aurora Planning Commission meetings on the expansion, according to Bill Wiet, Aurora chief development officer.
Chicago Premium Outlets and the Aurora Corporate Center were in TIF District 2, which expired last year. In 2012, the area developed more than $8 million in property tax revenue.
New Jersey-based Simon Property Group owns and operates 65 other outlet malls in North America.