Container Collective opening at Carpentersville’s Spring Hill Mall


An outdoor entertainment venue centered by a stage and enclosed by large-scale containers for food, drink and business vendor booths is going to be set up in a parking lot at Spring Hill Mall in Carpentersville.

Container Collective Social will be created in the 60,000-square-foot parking lot outside the former Carson’s department store, owner Corey Kelly said.

“It’s definitely something more unique,” said Kelly, who was granted a temporary liquor license for the venture by the Carpentersville Village Board this week. “It’s a great use for a mall. … One of the things we’re doing is to bring foot traffic to the mall and promote their businesses.”

Spring Hill Mall on Route 31 has lost three of its anchor stores in recent years, with only a Kohl’s now remaining. Inside, much of the space is vacant.

Kelly said he’s going to install a sound system and plans to offer concerts, movies, a food truck festival and themed-night events.

“I’m open to anybody contacting me with an idea they have,” he said.

Container Collective Social provided this artist's rendering to show what their outdoor entertainment venue could look like if built in the parking lot of the former Carson's store at the Spring Hill Mall in Carpentersville.

While Container Collective Social doesn’t have a set schedule yet, the plan is to start holding events possibly by the end of August and continue through the end of October, he said.

The plan comes as the village of West Dundee is in the process of purchasing two of the mall’s empty anchor stores — formerly occupied by Macy’s and Sears — and negotiating with the mall owner, Kohan Retail Investment Group, to purchase the rest of the shopping center.

A portion of the mall is located in West Dundee and the rest is in Carpentersville.

Kelly said he isn’t deterred by the mall’s uncertain future.

“We’re outdoors,” he said. “The thing is, by the time they get a deal, it’s insignificant to us.”

Construction has already started on the site, and the Carpentersville Village Board has signed off on ordinance variances needed to that Kelly could be issued a temporary liquor license.

The issue was part of the board’s consent agenda and initially not discussed at the Tuesday meeting.

Container Collective Social plans to enclose the parking lot of the vacant Carson's store on the Carpentersville side of Spring Hill Mall. Containers forming its boundaries will provide food, drink and retail space when outdoor entertainment is held there.

However, Trustee Denise Richardson, Spring Hill’s general manager, later acknowledged she mistakenly voted on the consent agenda despite having a potential conflict of interest in its approval. When she was appointed to the board earlier this year, Richardson said she would abstain from any votes involving the mall.

“I didn’t do it intentionally,” Richardson said.

Trustees are allowed to request an item be removed from a consent agenda so it can be voted on separately, which gives an official the opportunity to abstain. No one on the board asked for that to happen.

Village President John Skillman said he didn’t believe Richardson’s vote posed a conflict of interest.

Village Attorney Brad Stewart agreed, saying trustees were voting on an ordinance amendment and not something directly affecting the mall.

If there it’s later determined there was a conflict, the board can vote on the amendment again, he said.

Gloria Casas is a freelance reporter for The Courier-News.

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