The welcome has melted at The Streets of Brentwood for the Big Chill ice rink – managers at Fairbourne Properties in Chicago, operators of the shopping mall, have informed Paul Bates, the rink’s owner, that they are terminating his lease.
Bates believes he wasn’t’ given ‘a fair shake’ by the mall’s operators.
“They said we weren’t bringing in enough money,” he said.
Casey McCann, the City of Brentwood’s head of the community development department, said he is working with Bates to explore alternative sites with him, although Bates says the city has not been very helpful and believes they are favoring his ice rink competitor Brentwood on Ice, with public fund grants.
“He has a lot of specific needs, like space, power to feed the compressors and other issues,” said McCann. “Our job is to be facilitators, not regulators. We understand that these business owners are under a lot of pressure. They have a lot on the line, but our job is to be empathetic and work for the best interest of the community.”
Brentwood Planning Manager Erik Nolthenius also said The Streets management had submitted a proposal for new housing at the east side of the property, the ice rink’s previous location.
Bates has initiated discussions with real estate representatives about a couple of local sites, but noted that the time requirements for permits and other preparations may threaten his reopening this year.
“You know, I’m mostly concerned about the kids,” Bates said. “We drew families, hockey fans and kids. It’s just too bad.”
McCann has yet to hear of any plans from the city’s other ice rink operator, Brentwood on Ice, which operated last year across from City Hall on Second Street. Big Chill has operated at an 11,000-square-foot site in the mall for the past two years, following the 2014 closure of another ice rink at the site.