Shopping center

Eastgate Shopping Center redevelopment underway

Loyd McIntosh, for the gallery

CENTER POINT – After years of neglect, Eastgate Mall, a historically significant outlet in the heart of Center Point, is undergoing a complete redevelopment.

Redevelopment of Eastgate Shopping Center and rendering of the newly refurbished center courtesy of the developer, Merchant Investment Group.

Now under the ownership of Steve Merchant of Merchant Investment Group, plans for the newly redeveloped mall include 19 spaces for rent, with at least one space anchored by a national chain. Currently, Merchant said two spaces have already been leased, while the remaining spaces will be leased once the project is nearing completion. At the time of this writing, Merchant expects construction to take four to six months.

Merchant also said he works to recruit a diverse group of businesses and strives to recruit businesses that are not in competition with others within the mall.

“Right now we have a nail salon and a hair salon, and we’re trying to get national tenants and restaurants and a mix of everything. We’re not going to overlap and have two or three hair salons , for example,” Merchant said. “We’re going to protect our tenants and not compete within our mall.”

The Eastgate Shopping Center was last refurbished in 1983 and had fallen into disrepair by its previous owners, who, pressured by the City Council to provide a plan for the improvement of the shopping centre, opted to unload the property instead .

“The end result of this property was that the previous owners were out of Chicago and had been away and hadn’t put anything into this property for a long time,” says Buddy Aydelette, economic development specialist for the city of Center Point. “Basically the city just contacted them and asked them to give them a plan of what they were planning to do with the property. I think that prompted them to say, “I think we’ll just sell it,” and so they decided to auction off the property.

The chairman of the city council and head of the economic development committee said the redevelopment of the Eastgate Shopping Center was the boost the city needed to spur a new era of development in the city.

” It’s the beginning. I think this is the fundamental breakthrough that Center Point needed in terms of economic development,” Collins said. “To see that a company has decided to start here is the opening of more to come when it comes to development here.

“Being at the start of the boardwalk, something as big as this mall that is fully occupied and full of businesses will be nothing short of phenomenal for our community. This is exactly what we need right now at Center Point.

For Collins, the redevelopment of Eastgate is as personal as it is professional. Growing up in the area, Collins said her parents used to frequent restaurants in and around Eastgate Shopping Centre, creating traditions that were an important part of her childhood. She said she believed the Eastgate Mall redevelopment would bring that sense of community and tradition back to Center Point residents.

“We used to go to CiCi’s Pizza, Seafood and Chicken Box, or Applebee’s every Friday growing up. These are things that stay in a family, so to see that we could eventually have new businesses there where families can start these traditions with their families is just wonderful,” Collins said. “I’m excited to see this and to start something like this with my son.”

The first project at Center Point for Merchant Investment Group, Merchant said he intends to consider other projects in the area if the Eastgate project proves successful.

“This will be my first project,” Merchant said. “If the city and the community allow me, I hope I will do more projects at Center Point.”

The Eastgate Shopping Center was opened in 1970 and spanned just under 3.5 acres and is located on the northeast corner of Center Point Road and 16th Avenue.