Savers Opens in Crystal Lake Center
Developers Find Successful Renovation Pays Off
Northern Illinois Real Estate Magazine had a discussion with Charley Margosian, Sr., and Charley Margosian, Jr., of Highland Management Associates, Inc., owners and managers of Country Corners Shopping Center at 230 Virginia in Crystal Lake, about the recent center renovation and the resultant successes. Below are some excerpts from the interview.
NIREM: You began renovation of the shopping center in fall of 2008 in the midst of the worst economic crisis in seven decades. What made you push forward?
Charley Sr.: We have owned the center since 1992 and saw it through one renovation soon thereafter. In early 2008 Charley Jr., our staff, and I all agreed the center needed to be updated to be competitive in the marketplace. We had the strong support of the City of Crystal Lake staff and government officials through the permitting, and we decided to press forward in spite of the economic crises. We pride ourselves in maintaining our properties, regardless of the occupancy or economic conditions. We were facing more than 30% vacancy, with two vacant anchors, and we needed to reinvest to help the center attract new tenancy. In addition to the new fa9ade we completed a new roof at the same time.
NIREM: How has the renovation been received?
Charley Jr.: We have had a lot of positive feedback on how the center looks from the local government officials and the city staff. Unfortunately, by the time we finished there were absolutely no tenants in the market. It took quite a bit of patience, but about two years after the renovation (Summer 2010) things really started to improve. We secured a new anchor, Savers, just opening, and Weight Watchers will also be moving into the center early 2012.
NIREM: Savers is relatively new to the Chicago market. Tell us a little about them.
Charley Jr.: Savers was founded in 1954 and has more than 270 stores in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. They are a resale store, but they are more inviting than any other resale store I have ever seen. They partner with charities to purchase items that the charities receive as donations and resell them. Locally, they have partnered with The Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicagoland. This will be their third location in the Chicago suburbs and they expect to open several more in 2012. We are excited to have a tenant that does such good things for the local communities. As I said, they have just opened in their approximately 35,000 square feet at Country Corners.
NIREM: What is coming up for 2012 for Highland Management?
Charley Sr.: We still have a vacant anchor space in Country Corners to fill along with a few vacant small tenant shops. We hope that we will see interest continue to grow after Savers opens. In addition to managing the remainder of our portfolio of office and retail, we will continue to seek distressed acquisition opportunities.