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updated: 10/25/2012 1:58 PM

Wheaton Park District still debating hotel at Arrowhead

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  • Wheaton Park District commissioners are still debating whether to allow developers to build a hotel at Arrowhead Golf Course.

    Wheaton Park District commissioners are still debating whether to allow developers to build a hotel at Arrowhead Golf Course.
    Daily Herald file photo


Roughly a year after a developer pitched a proposal to bring a hotel to Arrowhead Golf Club, Wheaton Park District officials continue to review the concept's economic viability.

Executive Director Mike Benard says three developers are interested in obtaining a lease from the district, including Fairway Suites LLC, a Kansas-based company that approached park officials last summer about attracting a 120-room, nationally branded hotel on the course property at 26W151 Butterfield Road in Wheaton.

As officials work to crunch numbers, one park commissioner renewed her opposition to the proposal Wednesday, with others also voicing concerns. Commissioner Kim VanderSchaaf has said turning over park land to a private developer is against the district's mission.

"I once again think this is risky for the district," VanderSchaaf said. "I think we've spent too much money as it is, and I don't support spending any more money or any more staff time on this."

The district hired a Memphis-based consulting firm to prepare a feasibility report for $7,000. The Pinkowski & Company report said the proposed hotel would generate strong weekend business fueled by the 90 weddings held annually at the clubhouse and other social events, but only marginal weekday business.

"Under the most optimistic circumstances, this would be considered a questionable venture by an experienced and prudent investor," VanderSchaaf read from the report.

Benard said the district plans to share the report with the developers to determine if they are still interested.

In addition, Benard said the district will hire a consultant for no more than $1,000 to verify an analysis prepared by district staff on estimated Arrowhead revenue generated by a hotel flanking the clubhouse.

"I'm not willing to make a decision unless I know exactly what we're going to make," Commissioner Phil Luetkehans said. "If we're making $50,000 a year, this ain't worth it. If we're making $300,000 or $400,000 a year, then I'm thinking maybe it is."

Luetkehans said he wants the figures before the next board meeting Nov. 14.

"This has been too long," he said.

If the board decides to pursue a lease and chooses a developer, the agreement would clarify maintenance and hotel operation standards that would protect the interests of the park district and the 27-hole golf course, Benard said.

"In other words, we would have some say in the minimum standards, which would be pretty high in our case, for the type of hotel operation that would be there," Benard said.

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