Little Village Discount Mall vendors worry about its future as developer plans improvements

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ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Friday, August 26, 2022
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Vendors at Discount Mall in Little Village said they're hoping a real estate devleoper's planned changes won't come at the expense of their culture.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- People from across the Chicago area and even out of state travel to the Little Village neighborhood for a taste of Mexican culture at the Discount Mall.

"Come on a Saturday afternoon, you don't even want to be in here," shopper Antony Zepeda said. "You can't even get through the aisles, it is so busy."

Daisy Reyes, a second generation vendor, sells clothing from Mexico.

"This is like the heart of Little Village," she said.

In 2020, Novak Construction purchased the property.

Vendors said the company has kept quiet about their plans. They said their contracts with the mall expire at the end of the month.

"Nobody gives us any answer," said vendor Kocoy Malagon. Residents are fearful that Novak will close the mall and redevelop the property, ultimately leading to gentrification.

"It's the displacement of the community and I don't want that," said resident Irma Morales.

In a statement to ABC7, Novak said they lease the mall to two businessmen and their lease has been extended through January and month-to-month thereafter.

Novak said they plan to "make substantial improvements to the neglected property, including a new facade, a new roof, better parking and other improvements."

The work will begin next year, the company said.

For the vendors, they're hoping the changes won't come at the expense of their culture.

"We try to keep our customs to send to every other generations," Malagon said.

Vendors are asking shoppers to continue to support them. They said that the support is now more important than ever.