Chicago (CBS) – Our beloved discount mall in Little Village is open as usual. The lease was set to expire at midnight until another extension was issued.
Although this will keep about 200 businesses from closing, the future of the shopping center is still vague after its sale to a developer. CBS 2’s Andrew Ramos spoke to the vendors involved.
Stroll West 26th Street in the Little Village for a taste of culture. It is that sense of community and tradition that allows people here, mostly immigrants from Mexico, to feel a sense of belonging.
And for entrepreneurs chasing the American Dream, discount malls have become an outlet for them.
For almost 40 years, this shopping plaza has housed over 200 vendors selling everything from dresses to boots to electronics.
However, it has been three years since the site was sold to developer Novak Construction. Vendors like Juan Zarate, who has run pet shops in malls since the mall first opened, have heard very little about the future.
“They keep saying they’re going to shut us down. It makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know what to believe,” Zarrate said in Spanish.
Veronica and Miguel Gutierrez, who run the electronics booth, are in the same boat.
“We live in fear because we don’t know what will happen,” said Miguel. “I don’t know if I’ll get kicked out of this mall.”
It is this lack of communication that irritates many vendors in discount malls who have already issued three lease extensions. The latest will occur this week, buying both sides more time to sort out the future.
After mounting pressure, Novak Construction responded to protests from vendors concerned about eviction and eventually agreed to meet with them.
The company said in a statement: “Novak looks forward to sharing our improvement plans for the mall and correcting the recent misrepresentations. Our goal is to benefit the Little His Village community and provide discounts to shoppers and visitors to It’s about continuing a tradition that attracts people.”
She’s open to any debate, but Veronica Gutierrez has just one plea. We want you to join us. Please don’t leave us behind.”
The much-anticipated meeting between the vendor and developer Novak Construction is scheduled for February 16th.
No official plans for the site have been announced, but the vendors here say they just want to be part of the next chapter.