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updated: 7/22/2011 5:52 AM

Arlington Heights Sheraton has a buyer

Hotel will be repurposed, but unclear how

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  • The Sheraton Chicago Northwest and the attached Coco Key Water Resort in Arlington Heights were photographed when they closed in December 2009.

       The Sheraton Chicago Northwest and the attached Coco Key Water Resort in Arlington Heights were photographed when they closed in December 2009.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer, 2009

  • The Sheraton Chicago Northwest when it closed in December 2009.

       The Sheraton Chicago Northwest when it closed in December 2009.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer, 2009

 

The mammoth Sheraton Chicago Northwest -- shuttered for more than a year and a half -- has been sold, the purchasers' managing partner confirmed Thursday.

The more than 20 acres will see new construction, but the 426-room hotel will not be demolished, said Mark C. Matthews of Argent Group, adding that several people involved in real estate came together and bought the hotel about six weeks ago.

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While Matthews would not say what the plans are for the property, he did say "There are no plans to tear down the building" and "there will be significant more construction on the site."

However, the building may or may not remain a hotel.

The buyers have been meeting with local government officials and the adjacent Arlington Park racetrack about plans for the site, said Matthews.

"We've just got to figure out what wants to be there and meld our visions with other people's visions," he said. "We've been doing a lot of outreach at this point."

Village President Arlene Mulder said the sale was great news.

Arlington Heights lost an estimated $400,000 annually when the hotel closed in December 2009. At that time the village was already facing staff and program cuts due to the economy.

Over the years, potential buyers have talked about different things that could be done with the property, said Mulder, but no one has mentioned plans for the $25 million Coco Key Water Resort, which closed at the same time as the hotel.

Matthews indicated the buyers came in with a plan, but the plan has since changed.

"We hope that in a very short time -- maybe 45 days -- we will be able to put out what will be a collaborative vision," he said.

While Matthews said plans for the Sheraton do not depend on the racetrack getting slot machines, "We would like to see it happen."

The buyers got the property at a price "significantly below replacement cost," according to Matthews, but he would not reveal what that was.

"We are excited," said Matthews. "It wasn't something we were buying on a scavenger basis. It's a great corner, a great location."

He mentioned the size of the site at more than 20 acres, the income of households in the area and the fact that 160,000 cars pass nearby every day on Route 53.

CoCo Key Water Resort, which opened in December 2006, was a bad idea, he added. The hotel catered to corporate clients, who didn't like running into youngsters in swimming suits, he said.

"What's obvious is it hasn't worked as a 426-room full-service hotel at that location," said Matthews. "When they put the $25 million water park next to it, that was basically a death sentence."

The Argent Group, a real estate and development company, has already closed an office in Bloomingdale and moved into the hotel, he said, "while we figure out what we're going to do and get our arms around it."

The hotel opened in 1969 as The Arlington Park Towers, and Hilton took it over in 1974. The name changed to the Woodfield Hilton in 1985. During the recession in 1993 it was sold at a foreclosure sale.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., the parent company of Sheraton, took over operations in 1996. The hotel kept the Sheraton name but was owned by WPH Arlington LLC when it closed.

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