Little Village Discount Mall vendors protest eviction
CHICAGO - Merchants in the Little Village community are expressing their outrage over the fate of the neighborhood's discount mall.
Little Village Discount vendors drove through the parking lot Thursday to protest their pending eviction after many were told they have to be out by the end of this month.
Vendors say they were told by mall management to get rid of their products after seeing a rent increase in the lease renewal offer.
Jake Paschen, executive vice president of Novak Development, said last month the company negotiated a new lease with businessman Kyunhee Park, who has operated part of the discount mall since it opened in 1991.
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Novak Development is planning to renovate the building with new facades, roofs, lighting and a surface parking lot with more landscaping and a welcoming archway. The property is next to the landmark "Bienvenidos a Little Village" arch over 26th Street.
Work will start in the spring and last about a year and a half, Paschen said.
Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez of the 25th Ward says there are plans to bring a Ross store, which would eliminate local jobs.
"Pre-pandemic generated the 26th Street almost $900 million of revenue for the city of Chicago. A significant amount of economic activity comes from the Discount Mall, 150 hardworking businesses have been in our community for over 30 years," Sigcho-Lopez said.
The mall, which holds about 124,000 square feet, has had about 100 vendors. Sigcho-Lopez estimates 500 jobs would be lost.
The fate of the mall has been a concern in the neighborhood since late 2019 when Novak, a company known for properties anchored by large retailers such as Target or Kohl’s, acquired the site at 3115 W. 26th St. In March 2020, company President John Novak told the Chicago Sun-Times the assortment of individual sellers "was not the best use of the property."
Novak said in an earlier news release that the lease with Park runs 10 years, with three five-year options.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.