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posted: 1/23/2019 5:28 AM

Total revamp for Fox Valley Mall area? Public discussions to begin

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Could an Aurora agenda item sound any drier: a public hearing "to consider the revisions to Aurora's Comprehensive Plan to change the land use designation for the property located at east of Commons Drive, west of Route 59, north of Montgomery Road and south of the Burlington Northern railroad tracks."

But look at a map for the area and you see how huge a deal this could be. Because the land in question contains the Fox Valley Mall and several strip shopping centers in a corridor that has supplied millions of dollars in sales and property taxes to Aurora since the mall sprang up from farm fields in 1975.

The Aurora planning commission will discuss updating what the city could allow to be built in that 3-mile stretch, during a public hearing Feb. 13.

Such as rezoning the mall land to allow housing, as suggested in the draft Route 59 Corridor Study.

That plan, unveiled last fall, called the Route 59 corridor "tired." It noted that two of the four anchor spaces at the mall are vacant, with the departure of Sears and the closing of Carson Pirie Scott. People's shopping habits have changed, it says, with people buying more of their items online instead of in person.

The plan suggests adding multifamily housing and "Main Street" mixed-use developments, with smaller stores in a pedestrian-friendly environment around the mall. That would beef up the mall's potential customer base.

Market studies suggest adding more restaurants, particularly high-end ones. Entertainment venues, such as a theater and a public plaza several acres large, could be added.

A stormwater drainage channel that now lies under pavement at the mall could be turned into a water feature, it says. Commons Drive could be extended farther to the south, connecting Ogden Avenue and 75th Street.

One thing they say should be discouraged: Filling spaces with self-storage buildings.

The area could also use a grocery store; drug-, health- and personal-care stores; and an upscale hotel, according to the study.