2704 Harlem Ave., RiversideBOB UPHUES/Staff

A car title loan company that initially targeted Brookfield for a new location will soon be moving into a vacant commercial building on Harlem Avenue in Riverside.

On Aug. 13 the Riverside Plan Commission approved two signs for TitleMax, which will occupy the former Sara Lee outlet store space at 2704 Harlem Ave. According to Bob Caraher, Riverside’s community development director, TitleMax and the property owner have agreed to terms on a lease.

TitleMax has provided the village’s building department with plans that will convert the former outlet grocery store into offices. As soon as the village signs off on those plans, remodeling work will get underway, Caraher said.

Based in Savannah, Ga., with locations in 13 states, Title Max provides loans of up to $10,000 based on the value of a vehicle. The company places a lien on the vehicle until the loan is paid off.

Title loan companies aren’t allowed in all states and are often seen as preying on people desperate for short-term cash, with companies charging high interest rates in exchange for the loan. Miss a couple of payments and your car could get repossessed.

Back in March, the owner of the Dunkin’ Donuts store at Maple and Ogden avenues said Title Max was eyeing a new commercial building he was constructing at that corner. However, Maneklal Patel, last week, said the deal had fallen through. The building is almost ready for occupancy, he said, but he does not have a prospective tenant at this time.

The Sara Lee outlet store closed in August 2012 after many years at the Harlem Avenue location. In 2007, Starbucks pitched a plan to build a store with a drive-thru at 2704 Harlem Ave. After receiving four zoning variances from the village, the plan seemed a done deal. But in 2008, as the national economy collapsed, Starbucks canceled its plans for Riverside.

The signs approved by the Riverside Plan Commission on Aug. 13 include an 88.5-square-foot rectangular sign that would be mounted on the Harlem Avenue façade of the building and a 40-square-foot illuminated sign atop a pole that will be placed south of the building in the parking lot. The sign will be 20-feet tall. Both signs comply with the village’s sign code.

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