BERWYN – Construction is in the home stretch on Berwyn Gateway Plaza Phase II, as two more businesses are on track to open their doors soon, completing the second part of the development.
City Barbeque and Mattress Firm are expected to open this summer, joining the retailers that have been open for several months. Phase II is at the northeast corner of Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road.
Starbucks, which was the first tenant in Phase II, has been open since fall 2015, and Blaze Pizza, which was the third tenant, has been open for almost one year. The second tenant, Fifth Third Bank, moved into its new location last summer, while Sprint opened about six months ago.
There also is one additional retail bay the city is actively looking to lease.
Construction will begin this fall on Phase III, which will include Panera Bread. An electronics retailer also is in negotiations to open in Phase III, and like Phase II, there is one retail bay that has yet to be leased.
Phase I of Berwyn Gateway Plaza, which was completed in 2012, includes Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle, Verizon and The Vitamin Shoppe.
Assistant City Administrator Ruth Volbre said the city is “very excited” about the new businesses, which will help keep property taxes lower for Berwyn residents.
“The sales tax that’s generated helps pay for city services like fire, police and street maintenance,” she said. “It also looks a lot nicer and provides an opportunity for residents to shop and dine locally instead of leaving town. The businesses hire locals, so they bring more jobs to the city, which is always a plus.”
Tony Griffin, executive director of the Berwyn Development Corporation, said the retailers in the plaza are paying the largest commercial property tax per square foot in Berwyn, which goes to the city’s general fund.
“[Berwyn] is a great trade area. Our residents like to shop locally, so the businesses have support from them,” he said. “We have the population density and the traffic counts, plus good household income. The city is being proactive and taking the lead, which allowed the retailers to come in and be successful.”
Griffin said the boom at the Gateway Plaza is trickling over to Cermak Plaza.
“It had been 60-percent vacant, and now it’s 100-percent occupied. Meijer is leaving, but other retailers are interested in taking over that space,” he said.
Griffin said Berwyn Gateway Plaza was built to create a “gateway” into Berwyn and to “reinvent an entrance” into the city from Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road. Buffalo Wild Wings was the first tenant in the development.
“When I came to Berwyn in 2008, national retailers didn’t want to come here,” he said. “But once the first one came, they were calling us because they found out how successful Buffalo Wild Wings was. The first phase was such a smashing success that they wanted to come here, which is why we’re doing Phase II and Phase III.”
Residents can stay updated on the construction progress on the city of Berwyn’s Facebook page.