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by Michael Sewall

With the retail development slow to recover and the state budget a mess, the village knows it had to make some concessions to allow new construction to get going in town.

On Monday night, the Village Board amended its development agreement with the Zaremba Group, which is building the Cedar Crossings mall near the Silver Cross Hospital on the northwest end of New Lenox, to allow it to pay for road improvements and construction in different phases. Additionally, the village entered an intergovernmental agreement to pay for some nearby road improvements using sales tax abatements.

“Because of the change of the market and what we think the future of retail will be, we found it necessary to renegotiate the contract,” Planning and Development Administrator Robin Ellis said.

Under the former contract, Zaremba Group would have had to pay $17 million up front for roadwork around the planned 970,000-square-foot retail center. Now, the developers will be able to pay those costs in three phases.

“As we build buildings, we’ll build roads,” said Gary Hough, Senior Director of Shopping Centers for Zaremba. “That’s a more common-sense approach. This allows us to go forward today.”

The shopping center has been delayed because of the recession, but Hough said Zaremba has remained committed to the site, which is expected to develop greatly over the next few years after the hospital opens in February 2012. Hough said construction on one road, also used as a back access to Silver Cross, could begin this summer. Zaremba also plans to market its outlot parcels first for restaurants, which would serve an initial use for employees and visitors of the hospital.

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