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Furniture retailer plans Orland store

Michigan furniture retailer Art Van Furniture will renovate vacant Dominick's Finer Foods store OrlPark open its first Illinois store. |

Michigan furniture retailer Art Van Furniture will renovate a vacant Dominick's Finer Foods store in Orland Park and open its first Illinois store. | Supplied photo

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Updated: March 10, 2013 6:06AM



In retailing, it seems, everything old is new again.

We’re not talking about thrift stores that stock secondhand goods, but retailers recycling space vacated in the wake of a recession that saw chains shutter multiple locations, leaving gaping holes in shopping centers around the Chicago area.

As a way of saving money and getting their doors open faster, companies are “repurposing” the leavings of those shrinking or bankrupt chains rather than traveling the more costly and time-consuming route of building from scratch.

In the case of Michigan furniture retailer Art Van Furniture, which plans to open four to six stores in the Chicago area this year, it will reuse an empty Dominick’s Finer Foods in Orland Park and a J.C. Penney Home Store in Hobart, Ind.

Making forays for the first time outside of its home state, Art Van hopes to have the former supermarket, 15080 S. LaGrange Road, ready for customers in four to six months, Diane Charles, a spokeswoman for the chain, said.

It’s building a large store in Ohio — another new state it’s entering — but whenever possible “we prefer to renovate (existing space) because it’s quicker and doesn’t require as much permitting,” she said.

Art Van isn’t Orland’s only example of retail space recycling.

Just down the street, at 15260 S. LaGrange, Whole Foods opened its grocery last November in a former Borders bookstore, and when Indiana electronics and appliance chain hhgregg debuted in the Chicago market in the fall of 2011, it relied on repurposed retail spots, including a former Sports Authority in Orland Park. A few years ago, Meijer renovated a vacant Value City store in the village rather than build from the ground up.

“Whenever you can go into an existing building, it’s going to save you money and save you time,” Karie Friling, Orland Park’s director of development services, said Thursday.

She said the village has been working with Art Van officials for a year, and that the company focused exclusively on reusing an existing building in Orland rather than take advantage of available land sites in the village to build fresh.

The store, which will be in the Orland Greens shopping center, will be renovated extensively on the inside and Art Van will redo the facade, Friling said. While the retailer will still make a significant dollar investment in whipping the space into shape, it’s far less than what new construction would cost and “is a more targeted investment, a better use of their (Art Van’s) dollars,” she said.

Vacancy rate shrinks

The retail recycling has helped shrink the vacancy rate of the village’s nearly 12 million square feet of commercial property, which stood at just under 5 percent at the end of 2011 but was 3.75 percent at the start of this year. That includes Art Van’s planned remodeling of the Dominick’s store, which is 46,000 square feet, Friling said.

While the village has 440,000 square feet of empty retail space scattered around town, none of it is in a big chunk, with the Dominick’s space probably representing the last large hole, she said.

“A lot of them are smaller vacancies, probably 5,000 or 6,000 square feet,” Friling said.

With its concentration of retail stores, Orland Park was a logical community for Art Van’s first Illinois store, Charles said. The demographics of the area match what Art Van looks for as far as household income and per-household spending on furnishings and mattresses, she said.

The company has 36 company-owned and franchised stores in Michigan. The chain sells bedroom, dining room, living room and home office furniture along with mattresses, and was founded in 1959 by Art Van Elslander.

The company will enter a furniture retailing market that boasts several well-known and well-established chains and independents. Charles said Art Van has relied on a combination of “competitive pricing” and a “solid reputation for service, value and trust, plus next-day delivery” to become Michigan’s top furniture retailer and “we plan to bring that same strategy to Chicago.”

The Orland Park store will employ between 60 and 80 people, Charles said.

Headquartered in Warren, Mich., Art Van is privately held and doesn’t disclose annual revenues, she said.



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