Woodman’s-anchored shopping center creating unprecedented economic impact for tiny Lakemoor

Dispensary, outpatient center, pharmacy coming to Route 120 location

A third Woodman's-branded gas station is preparing to open along Route 120 on the west side of Lakemoor Commons shopping center, seen here in fall 2023.

Since opening about four years ago, the enormous 24-hour Woodman’s Market grocery in Lakemoor has hit its stride and is bringing others along for the ride.

With 5.6 acres under roof, the giant store anchors and is the economic driver of the 74-acre Lakemoor Commons shopping center at the busy crossroads of Routes 12 and 120.

According to marketing material, the Lakemoor Woodman’s is the second-ranked grocer in Illinois, with more than 2 million annual visitors.

With the arrival of several new businesses and more in progress, the center on a former farm field that for decades had been envisioned as a commercial hot spot is providing a bonanza for the tiny village, with much more expected.

“The economic impact Woodman’s is having on Lakemoor is unprecedented,” said John C. Melaniphy III, president of Chicago-based retail consultant Melaniphy & Associates Inc. “The multiplier effect it’s having on surrounding communities is significant.”

Melaniphy has advised Lakemoor, Volo and Woodman’s, among many other entities.

Lakemoor has a rebate agreement with Woodman’s, in which the company receives 50% of the sales tax earned at its store in the fifth year and runs until a $4 million loan fronted by the grocer to extend utilities is paid off.

The Wisconsin-based grocer owns the center, but sale/development of outlots and other parcels was thwarted by the pandemic.

The 244,171-square-foot Woodman’s was the only occupant until Buona beef opened in February 2022. Since then, fast-food chains Chipotle, Jersey Mike’s, Wingstop and Taco Bell, as well as Starbucks, Heartland Dental and SportClips, have opened.

“Everybody’s finding out these are their top stores,” Weihofen said. “Everything up there has been golden so far.”

A cannabis dispensary, Advocate Health Care outpatient center and pharmacy are under construction, and a third Woodman’s-branded fueling station appears ready to open soon.

“I believe our everyday low prices and top-notch customer service is what is driving the sales in the food store, liquor store and gas stations,” said Bret Backus, Woodman’s vice president for corporate real estate. “We hope the installation of the additional gas station will allow folks to fill up and do so without having to endure the current wait times at the two existing fuel stations.”

Retail sales in Lakemoor have increased significantly as a result of Lakemoor Commons. The village received about $1.5 million in sales tax in 2022 and expects about $1.9 million this year and $2.4 million – representing $240 million in sales – in 2024, Village Administrator Todd Weihofen said.

Advocate’s $29.6 million single-story building will house primary and specialty care doctors’ offices with services including physical therapy, a lab, imaging and integrative medicine, as well as a retail/drive-thru pharmacy.

The opening is expected in late 2024.

A 7,000-square-foot building west of Chipotle is under construction as Lakemoor’s first marijuana dispensary.

According to marketing material, 8 acres adjacent to Advocate on the west is available as an anchor store spot and outlots of 3 acres and 4.6 acres are available on Route 120.

Weihofen said there is continuing interest in Lakemoor Commons and properties nearby.

“We’re doing plats of resubdivision, which generally means development is coming,” he said.

Contending development at the prime corner wouldn’t occur without an incentive. The village designated the area as a special financing district, a decision challenged in court by neighboring taxing bodies.

After five years, the lawsuit was settled in 2020. Under that pact, 50% of surplus property tax generated in the financing district is split among the other taxing bodies. Lakemoor is using the money to pay debt service on site development.