Dixie Square demolition begins
BY MIKE NOLAN email@example.com February 15, 2012 2:30PM
Federal disaster cleanup money is being used to demolish the long-vacant Dixie Square Mall in Harvey. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: March 17, 2012 10:19AM
The long-awaited demolition of Dixie Square Mall in Harvey is under way, Gov. Pat Quinn’s office said Wednesday.
A $4 million federal grant is paying for the removal of asbestos from the property and tearing down the former mall. Work began about three weeks ago and is expected to be completed by July, according to Ed Paesel, executive director of the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association.
Quinn, Paesel and area mayors were at a news conference Wednesday in Harvey to announce the start of work.
“The demolition of the Dixie Square Mall will help revitalize the local economy and create much-needed jobs,” Quinn said in a news release.
His office said the demolition project is supporting 42 jobs.
The federal grant was awarded to Paesel’s group to hire an environmental consultant and demolition company for the project. So far, a small portion of the mall has been razed, Paesel said Wednesday.
Work on clearing the 39-acre site, at 151st Street and Dixie Highway, had been halted after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan sued Harvey in 2005 over asbestos removal at the property. That lawsuit since has been resolved.
Harvey officials hope that clearing the remaining buildings on the property will make it more attractive to developers.
“In the long term, it (razing the mall) creates an economic development potential,” Paesel said.
Dixie Square opened in 1966 on the site of a former golf course, and original tenants included J.C. Penney, Montgomery Ward, Jewel and Walgreens. The mall closed in 1979.
Over the years, the mall was touted as a possible site of a ballpark for the Chicago White Sox, and one proposal called for converting the mall to a mausoleum.
In 2005, would-be developer John Deneen announced an ambitious $400 million project to bring retailers such as Costco, Kohl’s and Old Navy to the site.
Quinn’s office said redevelopment of the property may include retailers and/or light-industrial uses.
A spokeswoman for Harvey said the city’s “overall goal (for the property) is commercial-retail” development on the site, which is owned by a group called MG Development.
Money for the demolition is part of federal disaster cleanup funds Illinois received after the remnants of Hurricane Ike spawned flooding around the state in 2008. Some of those funds also went to other Southland communities for storm sewer projects and for buying and rehabbing foreclosed homes.