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Local

Book World planning to open location in DeKalb shopping center

A rendering shows the proposed 8-by-2-foot Book World sign that would be under the Junction Center shopping center sign along Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.
A rendering shows the proposed 8-by-2-foot Book World sign that would be under the Junction Center shopping center sign along Lincoln Highway in DeKalb.

DeKALB – After more than a year without a bookstore, one could be opening to the DeKalb area.

Book World Inc., a multistate bookstore chain, wants to open a store in the Junction Shopping Center. The company is seeking a special-use permit from the city that would allow it to add signage to the center’s existing custom-built sign.

Appleton, Wisconsin-based Book World has 44 stores in Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. The family-owned company offers hardcover and paperback books for readers of all ages. Many of its stores also sell tobacco products, but the DeKalb location will not, said Gregg Belonger, vice president of store operations for Book World Inc.

The DeKalb Planning and Zoning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. today at the DeKalb Municipal Building, 200 S. Fourth St., to consider the special-use permit request.

The Junction Shopping Center, at 858 W. Lincoln Highway, is a multi-tenant strip center with 17 storefronts. For more than 20 years, it was home to the Junction Book Store. That store opened in 1969, the year the shopping center was built.

The Junction Book Store closed in 2002, not long after Borders Books & Music opened in November 2001 and Barnes & Noble announced plans of its own for a bookstore across the street. After the Junction Book Store, the space was occupied by Dollar General.

A memo to the commission notes that city staff “supports the sign plan as discussed, and approval is recommended.”

The special-use permit is needed because “the proposed sign addition is prohibited by the Unified Development Ordinance, given that the overall scale, height and square footage of the sign exceeds the limits placed upon the proposed signage.”

Book World fielded several requests from people in the area for locating one of its stores in DeKalb and visited the area several times to see whether the Junction location would work, Belonger said.

If the special-use permit is approved, the store could open by this fall in space No. 7, in the far southeast corner of the center, Belonger said. That 7,000-square-foot space is between Laundry Lounge and Fushi Yami Restaurant.

In a letter to city officials, company representatives said the store’s sign would be critical to its success in this market.

“We feel that without this signage, we wouldn’t be able to open and operate a successful store at the Junction Center,” the letter said.

Book World opened its first store in 1976 in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Since Barnes & Noble closed its 21,000-square-foot space at 2439 Sycamore Road at the end of 2014, DeKalb has been without a general-interest bookstore.

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