Rice Lake Square Finishes Expansive Renovation to Become Area’s Premier Shopping Center

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The 251,313-square foot Rice Lake Square, a shopping center in Wheaton, Ill., recently completed an expansive renovation that took five months, half the usual time for a project of this size, and at about 30% of the usual cost. How that was possible during a recession is revealed by Mid-America Asset Management, the firm in charge of the construction on behalf of the center's owner, Grosvenor Americas.

Redeveloping a shopping center during a recession is no easy task. However, the 251,313-square foot Rice Lake Square, in Wheaton, Ill., recently completed an expansive renovation that took five months, half the usual time for a project of this size, and at about 30% of the usual cost, according to John Zoerner, Vice-President of Development & Construction Services for Mid-America Asset Management, the Oakbrook Terrace-based firm that oversaw the redevelopment.

“The key was in the planning,” Mr. Zoerner says. “We spent more than 18 months scrutinizing the impact of each cost and how we could get the most bang for our buck before embarking on the renovation. Also, we pared everything down to three main goals and stuck to them.” Those goals were 1) to improve visibility from the street, 2) improve traffic flow throughout the center, and 3) to improve the pedestrian experience through the use of new plazas. “Without this kind of forethought, a renovation like this would have cost at least $1 million more, and it would have taken twice as long to complete,” he says.

Details of the renovation included new roof uplighting and tower elements, two new pedestrian plazas, the addition of several convenient parking spaces, improvements to traffic flow and landscaping, and new signage throughout the center that was placed last December.

Why take on a project like this during a recession? Mr. Zoerner said Mid-America’s strategy on behalf of the center’s owner, Grosvenor Americas, was to improve the property’s placement in the local market so that when the recession was over, retailers would see this as the premier shopping center in the area. “We wanted this project to come out of the recession ahead of the curve,” he said. He credits the careful planning to his entire team consisting of Mid-America Asset Management, architect Pappageorge Haymes Partners, civil engineer SPACECO, Inc., landscape architect Hitchcock Design Group and general contractor Pepper Construction.

This is the first major enhancement to Rice Lake Square since it was constructed in two phases between 1990 and 1992. The center is located near the northeast corner of Butterfield and Naperville Roads in Wheaton, Ill, a far west suburb of Chicago, with anchors including Whole Foods, Stein Mart and PetsMart. Adjacent retail includes Jewel/Osco, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Home Goods and others.

Mid-America Asset Management Inc., based in Oakbrook Terrace, Ill., is a member of Mid-America Real Estate Group and a ChainLinks affiliate. The company is Midwest's largest third-party retail asset manager, leasing and/or managing more than 50 million square feet of retail throughout the Midwest. For more information, call (630) 954-7300 or visit midamericagrp.com

Grosvenor is a privately owned property group with offices in 17 of the world’s most dynamic cities. It has four regional investment and development businesses in Britain & Ireland, the Americas, Australia and Asia Pacific; an international fund management business, which operates across these markets and in continental Europe; and a portfolio of indirect investments. As of December 31, 2010, these six businesses had total assets under management of C$16.8 billion. Unusual for a private company, Grosvenor publishes a full Annual Report & Accounts, available at http://www.grosvenor.com.

PRESS CONTACTS representing Mid-America Asset Management, Inc.
Jonelle Kearney
jonelle(at)dodier(dot)com
     -OR -
Kasia Yuska
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DODIER & COMPANY
1745 E. River Rd., Suite 201
Tucson, AZ 85718
(800) 970-7392 or (520) 299-1000

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