For the first time since the Great Recession, Schaumburg's plans for the year ahead almost make it seem that the debilitating economic downturn never happened.
In his annual state-of-the-village presentation Tuesday, Mayor Al Larson previewed a 2014 all about new restaurants, residential subdivisions, car dealerships, corporate headquarters, hotels, entertainment venues and tollway interchanges.
His attentive audience was the members of the Schaumburg Business Association, gathered for their monthly breakfast event called "Good Morning, Schaumburg!"
Entertainment was the key to many of the more significant transformations the village is planning this year -- a proposed entertainment center adjacent to Woodfield Mall and an entire entertainment district around the Schaumburg Convention Center.
The latter is triggering the long-awaited construction of interchange ramps along the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway at both Meacham and Roselle roads and creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district to help fund it.
Even before its official creation this month, the TIF district already has attracted Sunstar Americas to build a 300,000-square-foot headquarters in Schaumburg and for Zurich Insurance to choose a portion of the Motorola campus to move to after leaving its iconic towers elsewhere in town.
The developers of Granite City Food & Brewery were said to be planning a microbrewery and Hampton Inn hotel, while two other hotels -- each with 100 rooms -- are planned on National Parkway north of Wintrust Bank.
The village's former Bally Total Fitness site might also become a hotel with two or three restaurants, Larson said.
As for new auto dealerships, the La Magdalena site on Golf Road will be turned into a Fiat and Maserati location while Toyota will construct a new building and renovate the former Frank's Nursery into a service station for cars.
Cambridge Homes has bought Loeber Farm on North Meacham Road near International Village for the development of 55 single-family homes, while the ongoing construction of the Pleasant Square subdivision at Schaumburg and Roselle roads is expected to contribute to the revival of Town Square.
One audience member suggested to Larson that Town Square had lately become a ghost town, while another asked more specifically about plans to fill both of the village's vacant Dominick's stores.
Schaumburg Economic Development Manager Matt Frank said the village had reached out to 20 grocery store companies coast-to-coast about the Dominick's sites and expects to contact more at an upcoming retailer expo.
However, a long-sought Trader Joe's is now being planned next to Chicago Pizza Kitchen on Golf Road.
At Town Square, Larson said the village is negotiating with a craft brewer for one vacant lot and a breakfast restaurant for the former Applebee's. He added that Bonefish Grill continues to be a vibrant business at Town Square, where Cup & Vine has also settled in recently.
"I think things are going very, very well as far as the 'ghost town,'" Larson said.
He reported that the former Entourage restaurant has been sold to a high-end Chicago steakhouse which has not yet identified itself, but plans a restaurant on the first floor and banquet hall on the second.
Two existing businesses that will soon be setting up second locations at the west end of the village are Chick-fil-A and Michael's Crafts.
A new Dunkin' Donuts is expected to open next to Buffalo Wild Wings on Meacham Road in the fall, while Egg Harbor Cafe and Starbucks are looking for further locations in Schaumburg, Larson said.