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The shuttered Carson's store at Evergreen Plaza could eventually reopen as a new retail operation after being declared blighted and eligible for Class 8 designation. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

The shuttered Carson's store at Evergreen Plaza could eventually reopen as a new retail operation after being declared blighted and eligible for Class 8 designation. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

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Former Evergreen Park Carson’s may reopen as new store

By Joe Boyle

The shuttered Carson’s store located in the Evergreen Plaza shopping area has been designated as “severely blighted” and eligible for Class 8 designation.

A new retail store operation in the U.S., with the assistance of the property owner, said they are willing to invest more than $10 million in new improvements to the old Carson’s site, according to a resolution that was passed at the Evergreen Park Village Board meeting on Monday night.

The board approved the Class 8 assessment status of the old Carson’s store by a unanimous vote. It must now be approved by the Cook County Board.

According to the resolution, the new retail operation will provide first-class merchandise at the Evergreen Park location. The two-story structure is 120,000 square feet.

The property at 9700 S. Western Ave. has been vacant for over two years. Carson’s had originally opened at the Evergreen Plaza in September of 2016. Bon-Ton Stores, the owner of Carson’s, declared bankruptcy in February 2018 and ceased operating two months later after no buyer came forward.

But a revamped and restructured Carson’s opened its doors once again for shoppers on Nov. 23, 2018, which was on “Black Friday.” This occurred after then Evergreen Park Mayor James Sexton was attempting to find new tenants for the site when a representative from DirectBuy in Merrillville, Ind., owned by SCC Generation, called him stating they were interested in reopening Carson’s.

The newest version of Carson’s was going to operate as a brick-and-mortar store for half the week and an online entity the other half. There also were plans to re-open the Carson’s store at Orland Square Mall, as well. Unfortunately, the operation could not sustain profits, was hampered severely by COVID-19 and ultimately closed.

The first owners of Carson’s utilized both floors of the building. The SCC Generation ownership only operated on the first floor.

More information about future plans for the old Carson’s structure will be provided at a later date.

Mayor Kelly Burke praised the efforts of the Rev. Benedykt Pazdan, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish, for spearheading a drive to provide clothing, essentials and medical supplies for the refugees of Ukraine. Nearly 650 boxes of supplies were collected on March 30 and put on a truck. The items were going to be transported to a plane in Aurora that was scheduled to go to Poland. Burke said the supplies have been sent.

“It was beyond successful,” Burke said. “Parishioners helped out along with volunteers from Evergreen Park High School, Brother Rice High School and St. Xavier. They raised $130,000 and more donations are coming. Thank you to everyone who has stepped up. The Evergreen Park Fire Department helped make this happen. Thank you, Fire Chief (Ron) Kleinhaus, for helping with this.”

Burke also praised the efforts of members of the Evergreen Park Police Department. Police officers were commended after responding to a tip in which a man wanted on an active warrant was discovered at a local restaurant. The suspect reportedly had a weapon and narcotics. He was also a felon.

“The police helped to make our streets safer with this arrest,” Burke said. “A lot of hard work had to go into this by the police.”

In a related issue, the police department is currently accepting applications for an officer position. To review the requirements and for further information, go to recruitment.iossolutions.com or call 800-343-HIRE.

Applications and required documentation are due by 2 p.m. May 13. Testing will be held at 8 a.m. June 11.

The 75th anniversary Mass at St. Bernadette Church, 9343 S. Francisco Ave., will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 23.

A celebration of 2022 Earth Day will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, April 22 with the Great Global Clean-up at 50 Acre Park, 2709 W. 91st St. The Evergreen Park Youth Department is seeking volunteers to help clean up the park.

Registration is due by Monday, April 18 at the Community Center by contacting Pyeisha Allen. More information can also be obtained by emailing Mary Kay Nielsen, the barn manager, at [email protected]

The board granted a business certificate for Weil Foot and Ankle, 10002 S. Kedzie Ave. The podiatry office is under new ownership.

Free tax return preparation for seniors and disabled adults are still being accepted by appointments only at the Evergreen Park Community Center. The circuit breaker program and property tax freeze assistance are also available. More information can be obtained by calling the Office of Citizen Services, 708-422-8776.

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