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A sign along Veterans Parkway shows Ross Dress for Less, a low-price clothing chain with locations throughout Illinois, including Champaign and Peoria, will open in the former Dick's Sporting Goods store at 200 Greenbriar Drive in Normal, in between The Fresh Market and Michael's off Veterans Parkway.

NORMAL — A low-price clothing retailer is officially coming to the former Dick's Sporting Goods store in Normal.

Ross Dress for Less, an outlet chain with locations throughout Illinois, including Champaign and Peoria, will open a location at 200 Greenbriar Drive, between The Fresh Market and Michael's off Veterans Parkway. The company has erected signs there that say the store is "coming soon."

"We don’t have a date for that yet, but we're excited,” said Normal Economic Development Director Sally Heffernan. "Retail is hard to come by these days, and that store has been vacant for over a year. ... The neighbors are not getting the benefit of having a store there, so they’re also anxiously awaiting Ross’ opening too.”

The chain's website, rossstores.com, refers to Ross Dress for Less as "the nation’s largest off-price retail chain."

"We work directly with manufacturers to negotiate the best deals. ... We love new buys — we keep it simple so we can get the great buys into our stores quickly, which means almost every day," according to the site. "We believe in 'no frills' — no window displays, mannequins, fancy fixtures or decorations in our stores, so we can pass more savings on to our customers."

The Normal City Council agreed last fall to pay $800,000 in future sales tax revenue to bring Ross and at least two other retailers to town.

Phillips Edison and Company, which owns the shopping center Ross will occupy, plans to spend $4 million improving it, including $1 million for the Ross site.

Phillips Edison officials said then they planned to make space for two more retailers by reducing the spaces used now by Office Depot and Shoe Carnival, and they also hoped to build a small retail space in a parking lot.

"That could take a while because they're waiting for both lease terms run their course,” said Heffernan of when Office Depot and Shoe Carnival might be down-sized. She did not know when those leases expire.

Phillips Edison and Ross Dress for Less did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Dick's moved from Normal to Bloomington after the city agreed to pay Empire Crossing owner BT Bloomington LLC up to $4 million in tax increment financing and sales tax revenues to do a $10 million renovation of that shopping center, at Empire Street and Veterans Parkway.

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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Normal and McLean County Reporter

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