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DANVILLE, IL-Village Mall Shopping Center plans to convert 78,000 square feet of retail into offices. Commercial real estate investor and developer Brett Howard will renovate a portion of the 478,000-square-foot shopping center into build-to-suit office, following challenges in leasing up the retail.

The office component, to be known as the Commons Business Park, will be located in the eastern portion of the mall formerly occupied by the now-defunct Steve & Barry’s.

“The retail square footage all over seems to be overbuilt in this economy, and we have identified a need for office areas in this community so we have decided to provide that,” Cindy Compton, Village Mall’s on-site manager, tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s not just our area that’s overbuilt, and we are seeing the same as what’s going on in the national economy with retail. We have the space available and it will provide our existing retail tenants with built-in foot traffic.”

Other smaller retailers currently located in the portion slated for office conversion will be moved to “more lucrative areas” of the mall, Compton says. The Commons is intended to offer larger offices than exist elsewhere locally, with spaces up to 50,000 square feet available for renovation on a build-to-suit basis as tenants sign leases. “We’re going to make the spaces fit the businesses, and it will allow them to come into an office designed to meet their needs,” Compton says.

Built in 1976, the retail portion of the development, at 2917 N. Vermilion St. near Liberty Lane, is currently 63% leased and anchored by County Market, Elder-Beerman, Sears and a Kerasotes Cinema six-screen movie theatre. Though no office leases have yet been signed, Compton says she has been overwhelmed by the response to the announcement of the office availability and discussions are ongoing with several prospective tenants. Asking lease rates for the office will range from $6 to $8 per square foot, depending on lease term and the amount of work need to retrofit the space for any given tenant.

“We have several amenities here that tenants may not be able to find elsewhere,” Compton says. “We are offering ample free paring for business employees and visitors, as well as the convenience of being close to shopping and restaurants.”

There are no plans to build on to the 41-acre Village Mall property, Compton says, but further development may arise in the future based on need.

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