Local retail stores expand selection, city budget

By Gus Bode

City economy thrives while state continues to struggle

The arrival of new stores and business in Carbondale is not only bringing in larger shopping selections for consumers, but also generating more money for the community.

The rejuvenation of Carbondale’s retail and industrial areas is being caused by many factors, said executive director of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce Sara Berkbigler. One large reason why economic interests are stirring in Carbondale is the improvements made by University Mall.


Bayview Financial Trading Group, the owner’s of the mall, have made significant investments to the mall. These investments have become a major draw for the town, Berkbigler said. The mall changed ownership in 2002, and has since experienced tremendous growth in the past 18 months, said University Mall General Manager Debra Tindall.

“Bayview has had the financial investments to bring in new businesses,” Tindall said.

In the past year, many brand name stores have opened in the mall including:Wet Seal, Old Navy, Gap, Gap Kids, Shoe Department, and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Besides the completed projects Michael’s, an arts and crafts store, will be open in early September and Hollister Co., a division of Abercrombie & Fitch, will open in the mall in November, Tindall said.

“After Hollister Co. opens in November, the mall will have opened 119,652 square feet of mall space that was vacant 18 months ago,” Tindall said.

In addition to the new retail stores, the mall will be building a new food court in the east side of the mall adjacent to Southern Illinois Healthcare facility in November.

Construction will begin in October for Panera Bread Co., which will be located on the mall’s property near the corner of Walnut Street and Lewis Lane. The new restaurant is scheduled for completion in early 2004, Tindall said.


“It’s not that were just opening stores,” Tindall said. “It’s the caliber of stores that we are opening that is really significant.”

Ernie Tessone, financial director of the city attributed last year’s arrival of big dollar-generating stores like Best Buy and Old Navy to having boosted the city’s budget. When a community can attract big name stores into the community it can also bring outside consumers into the city.

“Not only do the stores generate gross receipts from the sales that we can get taxes from, but also, those people that travel distances will probably eat,” Tessone said. “They are going to inhabit the restaurants and also other stores, as well.”

The City of Carbondale’s budget is based on projected on expected sales tax. The FY 2002 budget compared to the FY 2003 budget was up slightly over 4 percent. The new projected budget for FY2004 is up an additional 3.6 percent, Tessone said.

The State of Illinois collects the sales tax from the gross receipts from all the businesses; the sales tax is then redistributed to all the municipalities and to all the counties, said Tessone.

The sales tax in Carbondale is 7.25 percent of which 5 percent belongs to the State of Illinois. The remaining 2.25 percent of the sales tax is redistributed into the county and the City of Carbondale.

Jackson County receives .25 percent, while the city of Carbondale gets one percent municipal sales tax and one percent home rule tax.

Of the two percent sales tax the City of Carbondale directly receives, .25 percent is given to the Carbondale Community High School to pay off the bond they issued to build the new school. Of the total 7.25 percent sales tax the city of Carbondale retains 1.75 percent.