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Developer to turn Galesburg’s old Bergner’s at Sandburg Mall into convention center

GALESBURG, Illinois -- One of the anchor stores at the Sandburg Mall in Galesburg is being purchased by a local developer who plans to turn it into an convention center with a sports bar.

Keith Vaughn could be seen on Thursday clearing piles of retail fixtures removed from the walls and floors of the old Bergner's stacked up on the stripped out sales floor.

"As we started making more visits on site, you know we pictured all the fixtures gone, we pictured lots of people, lots of tables set up," said Vaughn.

Vaughn said he scooped up the 85,000 square foot space for a bargain and wants to turn it into the Western Illinois Convention Center.

"So we can have conventions, meetings, anniversaries, birthdays… we can offer and give the community whatever they would like," Vaughn said.

In one corner of the building, he said he plans to add a sports bar for convention goers and tourists to enjoy. As for the building itself, Vaughn said it is in good condition. The drop ceiling was installed in the last few years as well as a new roof.

There will be some work to do in the parking lots and on the building's exterior before opening sometime later this year.

"We’re going to update some landscaping, we’ll be doing some façade work," said Vaughn. "Changing some signs, of course it can’t be the Bergner's convention center, it’s going to have to be the Western Illinois Convention Center," he said.

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