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Calumet City mayor looks to transform former Sears at River Oaks Mall into indoor water park

Calumet City mayor plans to turn former Sears into indoor water park
Calumet City mayor plans to turn former Sears into indoor water park 01:57

CALUMET CITY, Ill. (CBS) – Plans are in the works to turn a struggling mall into a crown jewel of the community.

An ambitious suburban mayor wants to build a massive water park on the former site of a Sears store, and the city council in Calumet City approved funding for the plan Thursday night.

As CBS 2's Tim McNicholas reported, wooden boards mark the spot where Sears closed its location at the River Oaks Center mall nine years ago.

Now, the mayor of Calumet City wants to replace the wood with water -- a whole lot of it. River Oaks Roaring Rivers would be an indoor water park attached to a rock-climbing experience, arcade, and hotel.

The renderings in this YouTube video show the mayor's vision for the 27-acre property.

Jackson Nuckolls, Water Park Project - Full Presentation by 3Dream Studios on YouTube

"It's been pretty slow here at River Oaks," said Kentrice Frison.

Frison just opened her Chi Girl beauty store in the mall attached to the old Sears property.

"More businesses coming along can definitely help all of us," Frison said.

But to launch the mayor's $79 to $100 million dollar plan, City Council will have to approve it.

"Taxes will not be raised, this is a public-private partnership," said Mayor Thaddeus Jones.

Jones expects most of the project to be funded by a local developer -- the Jackson Nuckolls Group. But the city plans to commit a $12 to $20 million bond to start.

The mayor will ask city council to approve those funds Thursday.

"This is calumet city's time. We can't turn the corner and say we did not take the chance to do this," Jones said. "We have to take the opportunity to make Calumet City a world-class entertainment destination."

The city already owns the Sears site and plans to sell it to that developer for the project.

The mayor says he also has his sights set on acquiring the rest of the mall and reconfiguring that as well. He says businesses like Chi Girl would be able to stay.

"With me being new to this mall, I guess we can only hope for the best," Frison said.

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