The former Dominick's building at Midlothian Road and Route 176 may still be empty, but there are other signs of growth in Mundelein, according to John Lobaito, village administrator.
Restaurants have opened or expanded, a new fitness center just opened and housing projects once in foreclosure are back on track, he said.
And while Bank of America will close its branch office in Mundelein in September, the Mundelein Community Bank broke ground in June for a new branch in the center of town at 169 N. Lake Street.
Officials have said that will help with the redevelopment of the blighted intersection of Lake and Division streets.
"The bank has bought into Mundelein's vision for the downtown – so they are showing their confidence in what we're doing by investing in the downtown and in the community," Lobaito said.
The branch is expected to open in December. The main branch is at Midlothian and Route 176.
Several housing projects ended up in foreclosure during the recession, but new developers are resuscitating them, Lobaito said.
Tallgrass Ridge, featuring 35 single homes, near Midlothian and Courtland roads is done, Lobaito said. Hickory Woods, featuring 34 townhomes on Hickory Street is also completed.
"We just heard that they finished the project and 22 units sold in less than a year," Lobaito said.
He said the village is working to carve out an agreement with Lake Ridge, a townhome development of about 50 units on Route 45 and Hickory Street.
"We expect the board will take action on that in 30 days," he said. A new developer took over the project, he said.
In addition, a second building for Cardinal Square apartments, across the railroad tracks from the newly completed village hall, is being constructed.
The village worked with developers offering incentives to get the housing units built.
"These certainly are signals that the economy is approving," Lobaito said. "Often times, it's the residential that comes back first and commercial follows shortly after that. Commercial is coming back very slowly, but we are starting to see signs of it".
Luke's Chicago Style Sandwiches, relocated to a larger spot, the old KFC location, at 551 N. Lake Street, with an outdoor patio.
"It's very busy," Lobaito said.
Just down the street, a new restaurant, Maya's, recently opened, offering Mexican and American food, at 506 N. Lake Street.
It's been her father Miguel Diaz's dream to open a restaurant, said Guadalupe Diaz, who works at the restaurant with other family members.
Miguel Diaz has worked in Cook and Lake counties for 20 years as a chef, she said.
He chose Mundelein for the location because "it's calm. People are nice and there's diversity in the community," Guadalupe Diaz said.
Assistant manager Juve Castrejon said the family scouted out restaurants in Mundelein and couldn't find a place where breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served, so they decided their restaurant could fill that niche.
"We serve from really American food to hard-core Mexican food," he said. One of the specialties is apple taffy French toast. "People love it."
Meanwhile, Tamales Diana at 615 N. Midlothian Road is opening a second location at 700 Diamond Lake Road, formerly Puerto Vallarta Restaurant.
"Those are indications to us that people are starting to spend money again," Lobaito said.
Industry is growing in Mundelein as well, with Larson Manufacturing building a 21,200-square-foot addition at 1201 Allanson Road.
A permit has been issued and the addition is under construction, according to the village's most recent updated project lists.
In addition, Athletic Revolution of Mundelein just opened at 300 Washington Boulevard.
The 2,000-square foot training facility helps adults with weight loss and trains youth for sports participation.
"We do speed and agility camps for kids," said Brian Zinkel, one of three owners.
Zinkel, of Wauconda, along with Trevor Warnke and Nathan Johns on Vernon Hills bought the franchise.
"There's a need for fitness everywhere," said Zinkel, who said he has a master's degree in sports fitness.
"There's a good-sized population in the Libertyville, Vernon Hills and Mundelein area. There are 30,000 people in Mundelein. It was a good fit for us," he said, adding the rent was reasonable.
As for the open spot at Dominick's, the village continues to work with the owner of the shopping center, Lobaito said.
"When Dominick's left Chicagoland, it created a lot of uncertainty in the grocery market," he said.
The village continues to look for a grocery store, rather than considering subdividing to create other businesses.
"Target (a few miles away on Route 60) has a good variety, but a store that is devoted strictly to groceries is still needed. There's demand from our residents in that area (near the old Dominick's) to try and find a new grocery store," Lobaito said.
The village will likely provide an incentive for a grocer to move to that spot, he said.
Redeveloping the Oak Creek Plaza Shopping Center on Route 60 near the former Menard's is also in the works, he said.
"There are some last-minute contract issues we're working on with the owner, but we fully expect the project will move forward," he said. A Super Walmart is planned there.
"The village board has spent many, many years getting us to this point of setting the table so that we're ready for the next economic growth period," Lobaito said. "They've done a lot of planning, and they've done a tremendous amount of investment in the community."