Little Village's Discount Mall would lose half its vendors under proposed plan, alderman says

A crushing blow to the vendors at Little Village's Discount Mall, who were told by Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez that as many as half of them are at risk of losing their current locations.

Earlier this week, they were hopeful that all 150 of them would be allowed to stay.

According to 25th Ward Ald. Sigcho-Lopez, Novak Development plans on downsizing the available space for them by about 30,000 square feet.

"It is shameful that developers are playing with peoples' lives, are playing with the livelihoods," he said.

The alderman attended a closed-doors meeting with the city and Novak Construction about the future of the village's beloved Discount Mall, a vibrant marketplace employing some 400 people. Lopez said Novak plans on reducing the vendors' space from 70,000 square feet down to 40,000, and said a communication went out from Novak advising the vendors to liquidate their assets by the end of March. Novak has not confirmed this.


"We're not going to permit that half our colleagues lose their jobs because we're a group of human beings with feelings, too," said a spokesperson for the vendors.

"To shut down half of the businesses in the Discount Mall is simply unacceptable, so there's no agreement," said Sigcho-Lopez.

Lopez is now asking the city to put on hold any building permits associated with the property's redevelopment, which may include a new bank, a restaurant, or a big box store. Novak has not made public specifics of its plans, but released a statement saying in part: "The result will be a safer, more welcoming environment for shoppers and residents alike. The community deserves a beautiful place to shop. We want this to be a destination and local asset for years to come."

Alderman Lopez continues to push for what he calls a "win-win" for the developer and the vendors, saying there's enough space on this property for everyone to get what they want, and for all the mall's vendors to stay. His goal is to negotiate a tentative agreement by February 24.

A spokesperson with the mayor's office released the following statement:

"The City of Chicago remains committed to a robust community engagement process to address the needs and concerns of all of our residents. Earlier today, City officials met with Novak Construction to discuss the future of the Discount Mall in Little Village. In this meeting, it was confirmed that only one of the two operators of the Discount Mall has decided to renew their lease with Novak. As advocates for a thriving business community in Chicago, the City's economic development team will work with the Discount Mall vendors to develop solutions and alternative locations in Little Village to ensure our residents and small business owners are supported and can thrive."