Spartans' Square Starts to Fall
The vacant Route 53 strip mall, former home of Jewel-Osco and Ace Hardware, is being cleared for future downtown development.
Construction crews began work Thursday tearing down the former Jewel-Osco and Ace Hardware in the Spartans’ Square strip shopping center to pave way for the future revitalization of Romeoville’s downtown.
It will take about two weeks to clear away the rubble from the former building.
Jewel closed in 2001. Then a Sterks grocery store moved in for a short while, followed by an Ace Hardware, which left a few years ago. The remaining portion of the Spartans’ Square mall will be torn down this June.
Romeoville village Trustee Linda Palmiter worked at the Spartans’ Square Jewel for 28 years. She recalled Thursday how the roof often leaked, the break room was 91 degrees and people accidentally drove through the front windows.
“Rubbermaid didn’t make enough buckets to handle the leaks,” she said. “I remember when it rained so hard, (water) would come through the bricks.”
The Jewel was also where Trustee Brian Clancy landed his first job.
The two former employees of the building swung at it with a hammer and left with a commemorative brick.
“I’m very excited,” Clancy said. “This is progress.”
The village is tearing down the mall to revitalize the area and the Route 53 corridor.
Work is beginning on a new Athletics and Events Center, which is expected to host indoor soccer, softball and lacrosse tournaments and draw some 3,000 to 4,000 people from across northern Illinois per weekend to the area, village Manager Steve Gulden said. The center will also be capable of hosting such events as home shows and boat shows, he said.
The center, located at Town Hall Drive and Phelps Avenue, is tentatively expected to be completed this December.
The concept plan for the downtown redevelopment initiative, which has been in planning stages for about 10 years, also includes a 20,000-square-foot grocery store and outlot stores or restaurants.
One thought includes having a two-story building with commercial space on the first floor and professional office space on the second floor, Gulden said.
Gulden and Mayor John Noak said the village has received a lot of interest from commercial businesses for the site.
“This is an exciting start of the revitalization of the area,” Noak said. “Now the residents can actually see what all the planning has been.”
Construction on the new downtown will pick up this spring, Noak said. In addition to the Athletics and Events Center, the area will boast new landscaping, streetlights and detention ponds, he said.
In addition to Spartans’ Square, the former Crazy Rock gentlemen’s club was recently torn down.