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posted: 10/10/2012 12:09 PM

Back to the drawing board for Prospect Hts. arena land

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  • Prospect Heights is trying to sell three pieces of land totaling 12 acres on Palatine Road, including one with this vacant building.

    Prospect Heights is trying to sell three pieces of land totaling 12 acres on Palatine Road, including one with this vacant building.
    Daily Herald File Photo


Objections by neighbors has led PAL Group Inc. to drop plans for an asphalt plant on land owned by Prospect Heights, Mayor Nick Helmer said this week.

The 12.2 acres on the east side of the city is what the municipality still owns from the unfulfilled arena project in the 1990s. The land is on the south side of Palatine Road, east of Wolf Road and west of Milwaukee Avenue.

Fifth Ward Alderman Bree Higgins said after the meeting that residents of nearby Quincy Park, a condominium project where she lives and works, started a petition against the asphalt plant. Other nearby communities also opposed the project, as did some residents of Mount Prospect, she said.

The council on Monday voted 3-2 to hire Airport Aviation Appraisals, Inc. for $3,800 to come up with a value for each of the three parcels as well as the whole package. Higgins voted no, and later said more than one company should have been invited to give proposals. Fourth Ward Alderman Patrick Ludvigsen after the meeting said he would have preferred a company with more commercial experience rather than one specializing in airport land.

Helmer said the city gets inquiries almost every week about the property and needs to have an idea of its value. The interest rate is 2.13 percent on the $5.4 million the city still owes for the land. In January the council rejected bids totaling $4.2 million from PAL while agreeing to continue negotiating with the company.

Before the city bought the land it housed a rock-crushing plant, said Higgins, and neighbors did not want a return to that type of industry.

Besides a possible expansion of the city's public works department or maybe a storage facility, Higgins said she did not have a good idea of what type of business should go on the land.

Due to the proximity to Chicago Executive Airport, PAL Group needed Federal Aviation Administration permission to build its taller structures. It took four months to obtain that clearance, said Helmer.

"They have other sites, including one in Elk Grove Village that's in a more industrial area and offers less of an intrusion on residential property," he said.

"We worked hard with PAL, but you can't say it's a major disappointment," said Helmer. "In this business you've got to listen to people. Would you want an asphalt plant two blocks from your house?" he asked, adding that the company planned to build a berm and soundproofing fence.

"The land needs to be sold. No income is being derived from it, and interest on the bonds comes from the general fund," said the mayor.

The arena plan was abandoned in 2004 when the city's voters rejected issuing an additional $25 million in general obligation bonds. The developers instead built the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. In 2006 Prospect Heights sold 14 acres of the land to Chicago Executive Airport, which is owned by Prospect Heights and Wheeling.

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