BLOOMINGTON — A new restaurant will be built in the former Macy's parking lot at Eastland Mall, but the eatery already is familiar to Twin City diners.
Outback Steakhouse will move from the Lakewood Plaza shopping center at 1409 N. Veterans Parkway to the intersection of Veterans and Empire Street.
Jeff Allen, senior project manager in development for the mall owner, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL Properties, disclosed the move at Wednesday's meeting of the Bloomington Planning Commission. The commission unanimously recommended the restaurant site plan to the City Council, which may vote on it Dec. 11.
Allen said he did not know why the restaurant was moving.
Curtis Akers, a partner in the building that currently houses the restaurant, referred all questions about the restaurant to Outback Steakhouse media relations in Tampa, Fla., which could not be reached Wednesday night.
Akers said the restaurant opened at its current site in 1998 and employs about 70 people.
The city's zoning ordinance requires a site plan review for properties in a C3 zoning district, which is for community and regional shopping centers, said Bloomington City Planner Katie Simpson.
In the site plan submitted to the city's community development department, a new building is labeled as a standalone restaurant pad in the northeast corner of the mall property. The vacant Macy's store would be to the west and the Sears Automotive Center to the south of the site.
A land-lease agreement calls for Outback Steakhouse to construct and lease the building while CBL will retain ownership of the land.
“Assuming we get City Council approval, it moves forward in the spring and they are open by Thanksgiving next year,” said Allen.
Outback Steakhouse is a tenent in other malls owned by CBL Properties.
“We do have a good relationship with Outback. We have other lease agreements on other properties with them,” said Allen.
“I think it's fantastic that longtime restaurant Outback Steakhouse wants to invest further in the city of Bloomington by constructing one of their new concept-style buildings and be a part of the wonderful new developments that will be occurring soon at Eastland Mall,” said Bloomington Economic Development Coordinator Austin Grammer.
That includes the redevelopment of the mall's J.C. Penney site, which is underway, he added.
An Eastland Mall site plan on its website shows Planet Fitness plans to occupy 20,119 square feet of the 71,000-square-foot former J.C. Penney store.
Plans for the redevelopment of the former anchor store have been submitted to the city, “and we're almost ready to pick up our building permits” for both Planet Fitness and a still unnamed national fashion retailer, said Allen.
"We are literally expecting a signed lease from (the fashion retailer) this week or next week," said Allen. "Until it's signed, I am not at liberty to say who that is."
Allen had no new information about CBL's plans to fill the former Macy's store.