DeKalb city crews prep to demolish Hillcrest shopping mall

DeKALB – DeKalb city crews are preparing to demolish the Hillcrest shopping mall after purchasing the property last year from area landlord Hunter Properties amid years-long battles over unresolved code violations.

The purchase and demolition is in an attempt to rehab the area and prepare the vacant lots for future development, city staff have said.

According to a social media post by the city of DeKalb, the city’s public works department was out at the property last week clearing the area to make way for the building’s demolition. Public Works Department staff collected metal scrap, refrigerators and AC units from the building on West Hillcrest Drive April 7 to be hauled off for recycling.

DeKalb Public Works is doing recycling ahead of the demolition of the Hillcrest strip mall. Crews have been collecting...

Posted by City of DeKalb, Illinois on Thursday, April 7, 2022

The city also is accepting bids currently for the building demolition, ahead of plans to raze the site and prepare it for possible future development.

The site sits near another empty lot owned by the city, formerly the home of the Campus Cinemas building at 1015 Blackhawk Road. The city owns the long-vacant movie theater lot after being granted a lien in the amount of $400,000 on the property last year. It was demolished in October 2020, and city staff have said they plan to put the parcel up for development opportunities.

Since buying the properties of 1011 through 1021 Hillcrest Drive for $1.18 million in August 2021, the city has since helped building tenants relocate ahead of demolition.

The city closed on the Hunter Hillcrest shopping center sale in October with Evanston-based landlord Hunter Properties, which has a colorful and controversial history in DeKalb. Tenants were given notice and a 6-month grace period to relocate, city documents confirmed at the time.

The city also used $1.5 million in federal American Recovery Act funds to aid residents and businesses in relocation efforts.

The mixed-use rental retail building at 1011 through 1027 Hillcrest Drive is one of four rental properties owned by Evanston-based Hunter Properties that the landlord must sell as part of a recently approved settlement agreement between the landlord and the city. Hunter Properties is required to sell the buildings by April 2023 after years of involving concerns expressed by city staff, officials and tenants over poor quality of living in the spaces.

Per the settlement agreement with local landlord Hunter Properties the DeKalb City Council approved a year ago in April 2021, the buildings that Hunter Properties is required to sell include Hunter Ridgebrook, Hunter Tri-Frat, Lincoln Tower and Hunter Hillcrest.

In December, the DeKalb City Council approved a $1 million incentive for a Chicago developer to buy more than 400 Hunter Properties rental units in the city, including Lincoln Tower, Hunter Tri-Frat and Hunter Ridgebrook.

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