CHATHAM — Now that national retailer Ross Stores Inc. has taken a pass on subleasing the vacant Best Buy store at the Chatham Ridge Shopping Mall, there's no timetable on when the empty building will be filled.
"We were in negotiations with Ross but that deal did fall through, so we're back to square one," said Staurt Lenhoff, a spokesman for Horizon Realty Services Inc., which was hired by Best Buy Co. to sublease the 41,268-square-foot store. "I'd like to say we will have a tenant signed by the end of the year, but at this point I don't know when we will have someone in there."
Officials with Ross Stores Inc. did not return calls seeking comment.
The building, which sits off the 87th Street entrance of the Dan Ryan Expy., has been vacant since Best Buy left in April 2012.
Some residents are growing impatient.
"The store was a Toys R' Us for the longest [time] before Best Buy took it over. I find it hard to believe that no retailer wants to have a Chatham presence," said Rick Douglas, 54, of Chatham. "You can see the store is empty from the expressway. It makes it appear that Chatham is a low-income area when it's not."
Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) said he hopes a retailer will take over the building soon.
"That space is prime real estate. Sooner or later someone will get it," Brookins said. "A restaurant would go good there because there are no sit-down restaurants at the mall other than a few fast-food restaurants that have limited seating.”
"No one has reached out to us for help. Perhaps that is one reason why the space remains empty. You have outsiders trying to rent the space when they probably know little about the community," said Roosevelt Vonil, president of the nonprofit alliance. "There are so many uses for that space that would benefit the community, so the fact that it is sitting empty for over a year is ridiculous."
Melinda Kelly, executive director of the association, said she is always open to working with prospective businesses considering a Chatham presence.
"That is part of what we do: Assist businesses in making their mark in Chatham," she said.
Lenhoff added that while he has not directly reached out to local organizations, he is not opposed to working with them to recruit a tenant to the store.
"The net lease rate for the space is $63,000 a month and the sublease would expire Jan. 31," Lenhoff said. "I welcome anyone interested in the space to contact me."
Residents said they just want to see the building filled soon.
Shari Johnson, 45, said she hopes a shoe store replaces Best Buy.
“Personally, I would like to see a Shoe Carnival go there. A shoe store is needed because there are no real shoe stores besides Payless at this mall,” she said.