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Closed Borders locations beckoning new businesses

A sobe closed Borders locatiGenevIll. Wednesday July 27 2011.   | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Medi|

A soon to be closed Borders location in Geneva, Ill., on Wednesday, July 27, 2011. | Andrew A. Nelles~For Sun-Times Media |

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Updated: October 4, 2012 10:09PM



A year and a week after the Borders bookstore on Randall Road in Geneva closed for good, the building will reopen this weekend as a Ross department store.

The lights will turn on again at the former Borders store in Wheaton within a few months, and municipal development officials are holding out hope that the empty Borders stores in St. Charles and Naperville will find new tenants before another year goes by.

“A number of chains are chasing empty Borders stores nationwide,” said Geneva Economic Development Director Ellen Divita. “Those stores are generally high-quality construction, in good shape and in desirable locations. We’re very pleased to have Ross moving into the Geneva Borders location.”

Several regional and national chain stores considered buying or leasing the stand-alone Borders building at Randall Road and Miller Drive, within a block of major retailers such as Best Buy; Bed, Bath and Beyond; Marshall’s; Michael’s Crafts; and Sports Authority.

While Divita gives building owner Len Weiselberg full credit for marketing and filling that space, she did note that Geneva officials contacted Ross several times over the past two years to promote different vacant storefronts on Randall.

“We don’t negotiate deals between businesses and commercial real estate owners,” she said. “We just try to create a favorable economic climate in which they can work with each other. We’re at a 4.1 percent vacancy rate along Randall Road, and lowering that rate is good for the entire city.”

Sports Authority will open its doors in the former Borders store in Wheaton’s Danada East shopping center by the end of December, said Wheaton Economic Development Director Jim Kozik.

“That size storefront is really tough to lease without splitting it up into smaller stores,” he noted. “It’s a good shopping center – it has a Whole Foods Market and a Steinmart, which really bring in customers – but there are only a few retailers out there that can fill a 25,000-square-foot space and are still expanding.”

Naperville Development Partnership staff declined to comment about the shuttered Borders storefront on Route 59 just north of Aurora’s Westfield Fox Valley Mall, but experts from other towns said they’re surprised by that site has not been filled.

“That’s a very strong retail area, even in this economic climate,” Divita said. “It should be attractive to a midbox chain.”

“When the economy recovers a little more, I expect that several retailers will be very interested in that space,” Kozik added.

The St. Charles Borders storefront might take longer to match up with a new retailer because several other stores in the shopping center at Route 64 and Kirk Road are also empty, noted St. Charles Economic Development Coordinator Michael Mertes.

“We’ve been really active trying to find a tenant for that space,” he said. “We’ve had some interest, but nothing that’s moving forward at this time.”

The 25,000-square-foot corner space, which at the moment houses a seasonal Halloween accessories shop, would be ideal for a major retailer because it anchors the west side of the center and it’s easily seen from Route 64 and Kirk Road, Mertes said.

“It takes a big commitment to move into a space like that, but it has a lot of advantages,” he said. “It was among the last Borders stores to close last year, even after Borders closed other stores in the Chicago area.”



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