A Boston-based real estate development firm is set to purchase the Edens Plaza site in Wilmette and lease its most prominent building to a large e-commerce firm.
On Jan. 7, village officials announced that the roughly 333,000 square feet shopping center, located at Lake Avenue and the Edens Expressway, will be sold to WS Development real estate firm. In conjunction with the sale, WS has executed a lease with online retailer Wayfair to take over the empty building on the site that was formerly occupied by Carson Pirie Scott department store.
“Filling this strategic space has been a long-standing economic development priority of the Village Board, and we are thrilled that WS Development and Wayfair will help to reinvigorate Edens Plaza,” Village President Senta Plunkett said in a statement released by the village. “This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for our community, and I am happy to welcome WS Development and Wayfair to Wilmette.”
The WS website indicates the company owns a series of properties, mostly on the East Coast.
“It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to bring a first-to-market experience to the community of Wilmette in Wayfair and to help steward the evolution of a place that’s served the community so well and for so long. We look forward to working with the Village to position Edens Plaza for its next chapter,” WS Development Vice Chairman and Partner Dick Marks said in the statement.
With the WS Development purchase, the centerpiece of the shopping center is set to be the addition of Wayfair, which is known for selling home furnishings online. The promised Wilmette store shows a continued move toward opening brick and mortar locations, as the Boston-based online retailer announced plans last month to soon open three stores in Massachusetts, on properties also owned by WS.
According to documents submitted to the village, Wayfair officials said Edens Plaza stood out for multiple reasons, including visibility, accessibility and traffic counts.
“The site’s placement within your incredible community is perfect. We believe Edens Plaza is at a critical intersection and, in many ways, is the entryway into the Village. Our goal is to create a welcoming retail environment at that intersection that is relevant for your community,” Wayfair officials said in the village documents.
With the goal of opening the store in mid-2023, Wayfair will be reaching out to a new customer base with a Midwest stop. A Wayfair spokeswoman said the company did a pop-up store in 2019 at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, and plans are in place for the opening of a distribution center in southwest suburban Romeoville later this year.
WS is promising fa?ade updates and landscape upgrades for the shopping center that it is purchasing from Newport Capital Partners, a real estate management firm that took over property ownership in 2019.
Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.
A Newport Capital Partners spokesman declined to comment.
The Wayfair store will mean a tenant for the former Carson’s space, which has languished since 2018 when the whole retail chain ceased operations.
Village Manager Michael Braiman wrote in an email to Pioneer Press that as the property was unoccupied, another concept considered for the two-story building was division of the building into smaller retail spaces – with offices or entertainment on the second floor.
Now, though, a WS Development proposal is expected to go before several village boards and commissions before final consideration by the Village Board.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a freelancer.