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Article updated: 3/21/2013 4:31 PM

Work begins on massive Arlington Downs project

By Melissa Silverberg

Even though the temperatures may not have felt very springlike Wednesday, Arlington Heights officials celebrated the start of a new season with a groundbreaking for Arlington Downs, the long-planned $250 million redevelopment project that finally got under way.

Village President Arlene Mulder joined trustees, developers and other supporters of the massive residential and commercial project for a quick ceremony in the cold weather before continuing to celebrate at Arlington Park, just down the street from the site on Euclid Ave.

The Argent Group, which is a developer for the 25-acre former Sheraton hotel site near Arlington Park, has been doing site work for several months, but will start construction next week on the first of two luxury rental apartment towers, said partner David Trandel.

"It's been a terrific journey. It's been challenging, but we've been blessed with terrific partners," Trandel said. "This has really been a remarkable process and people still can't believe it got done."

Residents could be moving into the 214 luxury apartments by the end of 2013 or early 2014, he said.

The apartments will be developed by Barrington-based Stoneleigh Cos. and will have amenities similar to those in a downtown Chicago high-rise, Trandel said, including a health club, restaurant and rooftop deck. This will be the first Chicago-area development for Stoneleigh, which was founded in 2008 and has more than 3,000 apartments in Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Arizona.

"This has been a long road, but we're so glad to have the opportunity to get this going and start turning dirt next week," said Rick Cavenaugh, president of Stoneleigh.

Later parts of the project include expanding the former CoCo Key water park -- adding 10,000 square feet -- and reopening with a smaller hotel for families. Four Points by Sheraton also has been brought on to reopen a small, limited-service hotel on the property by the fall of 2014. Retail stores and restaurants will also be located on the site.

The Arlington Heights village board last June gave the final major approval to the project at Euclid Avenue and Rohlwing Road.

It was a major blow to the village when the large hotel closed late in 2009 after years of financial struggles. The village lost about $507,000 in annual revenue.

But village staff estimates the new development, when complete, could produce $1 million annually in sales-type taxes for the village and another $4.2 million annually in property tax revenue for various governments.

The project is on schedule to be completed in four years, Trandel said.

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