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CHICAGO-Owners of the Discount Megamall at 2500 N. Milwaukee Ave. hope to reopen the shuttered indoor flea market in May. However, city officials are beginning to seek potential developers who can build a mixed-use project on the 2.1-acre Logan Square site, and hope to have proposals in hand by July.

The city’s Department of Planning and Development will issue a request for proposals for developers, who would be required to have an environmentally friendly “green roof” over 50% of their buildings. Transit-oriented developments that would include a grocery store and affordable housing are among the uses that will be encouraged in a request for proposals. Current C2-2 zoning would allow for a 200,000-sf mixed-use development, but project manager Michael Weber says the Department of Planning and Development will support a change to a planned development.

Although no price is set, developers are being told to acquire the 18 parcels on their own or be prepared to pay the city’s cost of acquiring the property, which has 900 feet of frontage on Milwaukee Avenue and is near a Chicago Transit Authority Blue Line station, Weber says. The city ordered an appraisal last month, but has yet to receive it. Property records indicate the 66,000-sf Megamall changed hands in 1996 for $1.9 million.

The Megamall has been closed since June following a court order and 112 code violations, Weber says. “This site has been a source of issues for a number of years,” says 35th Ward Alderman Rey Colon. “There hasn’t been adequate care of the facility.”

However, attorney Lawrence Ordower, who represents Megamall owner Kyun H. Park, says older roof trusses were responsible for the mall closing. His client is making repairs, he adds. “We’re repairing the mall and hope to have it open in 60 days,” Ordower says. “We feel that’s in the best interests of the community.”

Meanwhile, 55 merchants who sold wares there hope the Megamall can resume operations for at least two more years. They told members of the community development commission Tuesday they are losing up to $10,000 a month in revenue from their businesses, causing their families financial hardship.

At least one commission member was sympathetic to the entrepreneurs’ plight and suggested they be part of any redevelopment. “This is just as important as putting a Starbucks in there,” Jonathan Stein says. At the same time, Stein also urged the Department of Planning and Development to amp up plans to advertise in just one Chicago newspaper, and expand its list of 150 potential developers. “This is an excellent opportunity,” Stein says, suggesting 1,000 potential developers could be identified. “The department should do a better job of blanketing the marketplace.”

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