Tenants Announced for Revamped Strip Mall

Jul 8th, 2014

The City of Carmi has finalized a loan agreement with Bill Lee, who recently purchased the strip mall near Walmart.

Mayor Jeff Pollard said the tenants will include Midway BBQ Shack, AT&T, State Finance, James Cook State Farm, and the Factory Connection. 

Pollard said the Factory Connection sells clothing and accessories for men, women, and teenagers.  Some of their stores carry shoes. 

“Hopefully, we’ll get a full blown store.” 

“They actually had a representative from Factory Connection come to Carmi.  They usually don’t look at places this small.  But they were very impressed with the town and the people.  They wanted to make an exception to the rule.” 

Lee was also considering the Dollar Tree as a potential tenant for the strip mall.  However, the building lacked the space to accommodate both the Factory Connection and the Dollar Tree.    

The Factory Connection has locations in Benton, Harrisburg, Marion, and Olney in Southern Illinois.  Pollard hopes the store will be open by the time “back to school” sales start. 

Pollard explained that James Cook will be moving his State Farm office from the present site at 1500 Oak Street to the strip mall.  

The Midway BBQ Shack will occupy the space closest to Walmart, at the south end of the strip mall, where a drive thru window is already in place.  Lee expects to begin construction in the next two weeks.     

In June, the council approved Lee’s application for a $150,000 loan from the city’s revolving loan fund.  The Bank of Marion contributed a similar amount for the acquisition. 

Lee is also investing $60,000 of his own personal funds for the repairs of the building and expansion expenses for the Midway BBQ Shack & More.

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The Carmi Crossing strip mall near Walmart is poised for new ownership. 

Bill Lee, owner of Lee’s Heating and Air in Norris City, plans to purchase the land and building at 1340 Illinois Highway 1.  Lee has sought loans from the Bank of Marion and the City of Carmi for the $300,000 he needs for the acquisition.  

On Monday, aldermen approved Lee’s application for a $150,000 loan from the city’s revolving loan fund.  The Bank of Marion will contribute a similar amount.  Lee is also investing $60,000 of his own personal funds for the repairs of the building and expansion expenses for a new restaurant-the Midway BBQ Shack & More. 

The restaurant will be located at the south end of the strip mall, in the space closest to Walmart.  The building already has a drive thru window. 

Lee’s family operates the original Midway BBQ Shack & More at 3800 Highway 141.  They plan to offer the full menu at the new Carmi restaurant, including a wide variety of smoked meats, specialty pizzas, and deserts. 

Lee hopes to have the BBQ business up and running in 30 days.  He already has the necessary equipment.    

“I think it’s a gold mine there.  It has a drive thru, right next to Walmart.  I think it’ll be good for Carmi.  I never dreamed we’d have this opportunity.  I had looked to rent.  I never thought I’d have the chance to own.”  

A condition of the loan with the Bank of Marion will require 80 percent occupancy at the strip mall.  AT&T (currently Alltel) has committed to a lease agreement. 

State Finance is the only other tenant in the strip mall right now.  Lee is still talking with the firm about a lease.  He said State Finance does not generate a wealth of sales tax revenue for the city.    

Two other companies have expressed interest: The Dollar Tree, a discount variety store, and The Factory Connection, a franchised retail clothing store.  But the strip mall may not have enough space to accommodate both companies. 

Lee said the Factory Connection wants 4,500 square feet while the Dollar Tree needs 7,700 square feet.  Only 10,100 square feet remains in the building.

Lee said the Dollar Tree could be quite lucrative for the city in terms of sales tax revenue and additional workers.  The store would hire at least 16 employees (part-time and full-time) with a sales projection of $750,000. 

Lee’s Heating & Air is another prospective tenant.  The full service heating and cooling company was started in 1990.

The City of Carmi just loaned $120,000 to L & L Industrial Supply for construction of a 15,000 square foot building in the east Industrial Park.  The loan to Lee will leave $125,000 in the city’s revolving loan fund.