mall sign

The city has posted a notice of a Planning Commission hearing on Nov. 8 for a proposed restaurant in this part of the mall parking lot near the former Macy's store at Eastland Mall.

MARIA NAGLE, The Pantagraph

BLOOMINGTON — The owner of Eastland Mall has submitted a plan for an unidentified new restaurant that would be located in the parking lot near the former Macy's store.

The Bloomington Planning Commission has set a hearing for 4 p.m. Nov. 8 at City Hall to review and act on a petition submitted by Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL Properties.

"We have submitted a plan for review, but I am unable to disclose the details at this time," CBL spokeswoman Stacey Keating said in an email.

The name of the restaurant has not been disclosed to city officials, either.

In the site plan submitted to the city's community development department, a new building is labeled as a restaurant pad in the northeast corner of the mall at Empire Street and Veterans Parkway. The vacant Macy's store is on the parking lot's west side and to the south is the Sears Automotive Center.

"Our zoning ordinance requires a site plan review for properties in this C3 zoning district, which is for community and regional shopping centers," said Bloomington City Planner Katie Simpson. "A site plan review is just an opportunity for the planning commission and the public to look at the larger picture and have some input in the development of the site."

Things that are reviewed are landscaping, parking, building orientation, building setbacks and how traffic will flow on the site, she added.

The proposed project appears to be similar to the 1995 development of the nearby Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar, in the mall's southeast corner at Veterans Parkway of Eastland Drive, said Simpson and Bloomington Economic Development Coordinator Austin Grammer.

"It's a land-lease, so CBL will still retain ownership of the property," said Simpson.

If the commission approves, the matter will go before the City Council next month or in December for final approval. The city's issuance of any building permits is pending that approval and receipt of construction plans for the building, said Grammer.

Keating did not provide any new information about CBL's plans to fill the former Macy's store that was a major retail anchor at the mall until it closed in March. CBL purchased that property for $2 million, according to property transfer records.

An Eastland Mall site plan on its website shows Planet Fitness plans to occupy 20,119 square feet of the former 71,000-square-foot J.C. Penney store that opened in November 1966; it was among 138 stores nationwide that the national retailer announced in March it was closing.

"We plan to make a full announcement with all details surrounding Planet Fitness, as well as a fashion retailer, as soon as plans are finalized," said Keating.

The company recently changed its name from CBL & Associates Properties to CBL Properties as part of a rebranding initiative to reflect its many mall properties evolving as "not just about retail or shopping" to serving as "gathering places for their respective communities," CBL said in a news release.

CBL said the changing nature of its shopping centers is being made with the addition of more food, entertainment, service, fitness and other new uses, "and we are actively exploring adding hotels, medical, office, residential and education components," said the company. 

CBL is one of the largest owners and developers of malls and shopping centers in the United States, owning or holding interests in or managing 121 properties, including 78 regional malls/open-air centers in 27 states, according to its website.

Follow Maria Nagle on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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