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Shuttered Niles Secretary of State facility to reopen in Des Plaines

The Secretary of State's full-service driver's testing center in Niles was closed in May and has been replaced by Five Below. A new facility will soon open in Des Plaines.  |  Rick Kambic/Sun-Times Media
The Secretary of State's full-service driver's testing center in Niles was closed in May and has been replaced by Five Below. A new facility will soon open in Des Plaines. | Rick Kambic/Sun-Times Media

Drivers in Cook County’s north suburbs will once again have a local Secretary of State’s office, as a storefront in Des Plaines has been picked to replace a recently-shuttered location in Niles.

Though residents needing to renew their licenses, get state IDs, get vehicle stickers or transfer titles could get shorter lines as a result of the new location, Des Plaines officials say they’re the real winners because the traffic will generate sales tax money that previously went to Niles.The Niles facility closed in early May and has since been replaced by discount retailer Five Below. Some services have been offered at temporary locations in Niles and Morton Grove, but people needing extensive help were sent to the Chicago facility on Elston Avenue near Cicero Avenue, or the Deerfield facility on Lake Cook Road near Waukegan Road.

Des Plaines state Rep. Marty Moylan, D-55th, said he was very active in connecting city officials with Secretary of State Jesse White’s office about two months before the Niles location closed.

“It’s a major win for our economic development efforts because the DMV attracts a lot people,” Moylan said. “We spoke to some businesses in Niles and (the DMV) is greatly missed.”

The full-service facility will be located at Lee and Oakton Streets, near a Jewel-Osco, several restaurants, two banks, a Cardinal Fitness and other small retail.

“That area was targeted for redevelopment and our city staff is making progress on turning the intersection into a destination where people can spend money while knocking out numerous errands at once,” Moylan said.

Dave Druker, spokesman for White’s office, confirmed the new location and said it should open within the next month or two.

The Niles location in Four Flaggs Shopping Center, located on Golf Road near Milwaukee Avenue, closed in early May because property owner Inland Reality had negotiated a contract with retailer Five Below before offering the Secretary of State a renewal, Druker said.

Druker earlier told Pioneer Press that the Niles facility was being closed because the Secretary of State could not pay its rent on time. Druker now says he misspoke.

Inland Reality declined to comment on the Secretary of State’s payment history, but did confirm long-term efforts to work with Five Below.

“For the past few years, we have worked to reposition the Four Flaggs shopping center in Niles with best-in-class national retailers who want to locate in this densely populated, high-traffic area,” said Kristi Rankin, Inland’s senior vice president for property management. “We have revitalized the center with new retail tenants including Marshalls, Old Navy and Ashley Furniture. Last December we executed a lease with Five Below, a new entrant to the Chicago market targeting the teen and pre-teen market, for 9,100 square feet formerly occupied by the Illinois Secretary of State.”

Before its closure, the Secretary of State facility in Niles had 35 full-time employees, sold about 7,900 vehicle stickers per month and completed about 12,000 other transactions per month, according to Druker.

Katie Schneider, executive director of the Niles Chamber of Commerce, agreed with Moylan that the driver’s facility was a popular attraction.

“It did drive a lot of traffic from all over the near suburbs,” Schneider said. “It’s definitely a shame to see them go. We used to get phone calls from people asking where it’s located in the shopping center. Inland just signed a (Fresh Farms) grocery store to replace Jewel and now Five Below is moving in, so I’m confident they have a solid plan.”

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