Westfield Hawthorn's renovation and expansion plans gained more traction this week with the approval of a series of requests pertaining to proposed new entertainment venues.
"It's the closest we've been in nine years," Village Manager Mike Allison said in reference to the multi-faceted redevelopment proposal.
Vernon Hills trustees granted permission Tuesday to AMC Theater to serve alcoholic beverages in its proposed building on the mall's campus. They also signed off on an ordinance allowing other restaurants within the mall to serve alcohol, and specifically gave permission for Dave & Buster's to serve adult beverages and offer up to 200 amusement devices.
Officials also expressed preliminary approval for a special liquor license for the AMC Theater. The license would require the theater's bar customers to obtain wristbands before they are served, and they would be limited to one drink. Alcoholic beverages would be served only in 12- or 20-ounce cups that would bear a different appearance from all other beverage containers at the theater.
"There isn't going to be any tomfoolery in terms of serving an underage person," John Kalmar, assistant village manager, said.
While the special license has not yet been approved, village officials on Tuesday expressed support of the proposed conditions.
Vernon Hills Police Chief Mark Fleischhauer said he visited the AMC Theater in Mount Prospect and spoke to officers in that village's police department.
"I'm very comfortable with this. They've had no problem enforcing this," he said.
Trustee Barbara Williams, who voiced concerns last month about underage theater patrons obtaining alcohol, said she liked the idea of using wristbands to identify 21-and-over customers. Still, prior to that discussion she cast the only dissenting vote pertaining to the establishment of an alcohol-selling movie theater.
Other approvals were given this week for architectural, site and landscaping plans for the mall's expansion and remodeling, as well as sign plans around the property. Officials have not yet voted on a proposal for pylon LED signs proposed for the mall's entrances.
Mall improvements are expected to range from $40 million to $50 million, officials said. An economic incentive agreement has not yet been completed.