Eclipse Center Overhaul via BeloitDailyNews.com

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2010 12:00 am

By Hillary Gavan
hgavan@beloitdailynews.com 

Former Beloit Mall to get new façade

“The old mall look is going to be gone.”

That’s what Rob Gerbitz, president of Hendricks Development Group, said about the transformation of the former Beloit Mall into the Eclipse Center. Although much of the center has been renovated and filled with new tenants, there is still plenty of space, along with the exterior, to be tackled.

“We are redoing the parking lot and changing the entire look of the building,” he said.

In June, Corporate Contractors Inc. began a massive renovation of the northwest side of the building as well as the entire facade and parking lot. When the project is finished this fall, it will have an eclectic, prominent and inviting look with plenty of patios and landscaping. There also has been discussion about erecting new buildings for business, or even senior housing on portions of the current parking lot.

The late Ken Hendricks purchased the 438,000-square-foot Beloit Mall, at Riverside Drive and Henry Avenue, in 2000. Hendricks hoped to not only revive the mall, but convert it into a community center.

Several Rock County offices and school district offices have moved in, including the Eclipse Center banquet hall and conference center, the two Beloit School District charter schools, Beloit Public Library, Blackhawk Technical College, Cardinal Stritch College, and several Rock County services as well as small businesses. The Elder-Beerman store remains in the building. Community Action is in the process of moving into the newly renovated northwest side of the building.

For the past few weeks crews have been working on infrastructure, rerouting new sidewalks, fixing the interior of the former Sears store, improving the facade and more. The Eclipse Center entrance will be transformed so people can drive up and exit their vehicles under a canopy. There also will be a courtyard added, with landscaping and patios at the side of the conference center’s entrance.

Gerbitz said Hendricks always envisioned the property to be a community center. He added that the days of inner city malls are gone, with new malls heading to areas near interstate highways.

HDG is planning on marketing the completed site to a variety of businesses including restaurants, coffee shops, service providers, accountants, attorneys and more. He added there is room for build outs for tenants with unique space needs.

HDG is in discussions with both the city and some local businesses for potential development throughout the entire site.

For example, Gerbitz said HDG is working with the City of Beloit on a proposal to relocate the police department into the former Kohl’s store on the north side of the building, although the discussion is only in the preliminary phase.

There is the potential for the erection of new businesses on surrounding areas of land owned by HDG on the sides of Henry Avenue and Riverside Drive. HDG has considered putting senior housing overlooking the Rock River along Riverside Drive once the Henry Avenue bridge renovations and Riverside Drive construction is completed.

HDG is also talking to Bank Mutual about moving the facility closer to the corner of Riverside Drive and Henry Avenue after the construction project is finished for more visibility and accessibility.