Eviction Notices in Glittering New State Center
CHICAGO (AP) _ Some small shopkeepers at the new State of Illinois Center are ringing in the new year under the threat of eviction in the $172 million glass palace.
Center retailers blame their problems on flagging sales and unfinished pedestrian tunnels that were to link the center with surrounding buildings in the famed Loop.
Notices have gone out to three stores in the ultra-modern building, saying eviction proceedings would begin Friday unless they paid their rent, which was at least two months behind, said Richard Krilich, a spokesman for the Palmer Group, which manages the center’s retail space.
Other small stores also are having rent difficulties, although not as severe as the three facing eviction, Krilich said.
Retailers at the center, which has room for 43 stores, about half of which are rented, say sales have not met expectations.
″We bet on the foot traffic from the tunnels, but we don’t have it,″ said Keenan M. Coleman, owner of Chicago Floral Co.
The administration of Mayor Harold Washington and the Chicago Transit Authority apparently have been unable to complete the city’s share of pedestrian tunnels linking the center with the subway, City Hall and the new Transportation Building.
Krilich said the merchants’ complaints were ″not without merit,″ but added it usually takes from six months to a year for a new retail store to begin making profit. The center opened in May.
″We expect to sit down with the shop owners within the next several days and work out some kind of agreement,″ he said. ″We do not wish to evict anyone, and we hope such action will not be necessary.″
Served with notices were Photo Express Inc., U.S. Shoe Repair and Body Talk, which sells sportswear.
Steve Younan, co-owner of Photo Express, said sales of $50 to $60 a day are not enough to cover his monthly rent of $3,000.
″Nobody’s making money,″ Coleman said. ″Somebody has to do something or everybody’s going to be gone.″