New owners, new beginnings

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Mayor happy as Oldham Plaza finally sold

By Kenny Colston

After two plus years of confusion and “eyesores,” a new owner has finally taken over the struggling Oldham Plaza in La Grange.

Todd Clark, of Clark Enterprises, bought the Plaza, situated on First Street, for $3.22 million at a master commissioner’s sale last Tuesday. Clark was one of two bidders on the property, which opened with a $3.2 million bid by the plaintiff in the foreclosure, Parkstone Capitol Partners.

The Plaza has been the focus of La Grange and county officials for several years, starting with the closure of the Oldham 8 movie complex. Concerns worsened when a Traderbaker’s in the space also closed and a Dollar Tree, now opened, took two years to do so.

The Plaza currently houses a pawn shop, nail salon, El Nopal restaurant, Rite Aid and the new Dollar Tree. But the tenants complained to previous owners, Icon-Oldham Development, about broken lights in the parking lots and general disrepairs that were never fixed.

County officials became involved last year when a new retaining wall and guardrail was installed on one side of the property, without Planning and Zoning approval. After work was completed on the property, contractors, some of which were at Tuesday’s sale, complained of not getting paid for their work.

Numerous other rumors about Icon and the shape of the plaza dogged the shopping center for years while city and county officials received no word from Icon about their plans.

But Clark, the new owner, said those problems are no longer and that it’s time for the plaza to regain its stature.

“We’ve been looking at (the plaza) for a while,” Clark said. “We feel there’s a tremendous amount of upside too. It’s something the people of La Grange need and deserve.”

The plaza’s two main anchor stores, where the cinema and Traderbaker’s sat, are still empty. But Clark said negotiations to fill those spaces were ongoing, although he declined to identify what stores are interested.

Clark also confirmed he was working on a deal to buy the plaza outright from Icon for several months before it went to a commissioner’s sale. Clark said he originally had Icon cancel the first commissioner’s sale, but claimed too many issues with the previous owners led to him ending talks and trying his luck at the auction.

“There was a lot of hair on the deal that’s no longer there with the commissioner’s sale,” Clark said.

He declined to mention whether those issues involved unpaid liens against Icon or the payment of contractors who did work. He declined to say whether Clark Enterprises would now pay those contractors or not.

In addition to fulfilling the plaza storefronts, Clark said there was also an opportunity to develop the plaza’s out lots, which sit closer to First Street.

While plans for the plaza are still being developed, at least one local official is thrilled to see new owners take over the center.

“It’s a great relief,” La Grange Mayor Joe Davenport said. “It’s so exciting. Even as a council member it was an eyesore to me. Now it’s exciting it won’t be.”

Davenport said he’s glad Clark did not lose interest in the property when a deal with Icon fell through and he plans to reach out to La Grange’s newest property owner soon.

“He seems to be really easy to work with,” Davenport said. “It’s great for the city and the county as a whole.

“Hopefully, he’ll dress (the plaza) up for us.”

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