For the first time in its 50-year history, Pheasant Run Resort will have no ties to the family that brought the iconic getaway to St. Charles.
Saint Charles Resort, LLC purchased the resort Tuesday. The property fell into foreclosure in 2011. The sale will be finalized by the end of the month when the purchase price will be disclosed. Once final, Hostmark Hospitality Group will take over management of the 473 rooms and 250 acres of the resort. The Schaumburg-based company manages more than 350 hotels, resorts and restaurants in 35 states.
Edward J. McArdle founded the resort in 1963 after inking a deal with another iconic St. Charles resident, Col. Edward Baker, to purchase what was then a dairy farm. The establishment of the resort put St. Charles on the map for many Chicago residents seeking a nearby vacation. McArdle died at age 88 in December.
The resort fell on hard times during the slow economy. Reconstruction of Route 64, just in front of the resort, and a failing Charlestowne Mall contributed to the resort's problems. But the street is fixed, and the mall has new ownership with big plans.
Jerome F. Cataldo, president and CEO of Hostmark Hospitality Group, said those positive changes factored into the decision to purchase the resort.
"Those are important improvements in the area and part of what we see as a positive trend for St. Charles and that corridor in particular," Cataldo said. "We feel that the resort has always played a prominent role in the city. It is a special resort and extremely well known throughout the region."
Cataldo's company will invest $5 million in modernization efforts at the resort. For now, that doesn't include any major changes to the amenities or physical structure, Cataldo said.
"We'll certainly study the options for the resort going forward," he said. "We'll evaluate the components. There was a situation where the (McArdle) family wasn't able to continue to develop it into the next step or evolve it. That's what our vision is going forward."
That vision fits in well with what St. Charles' municipal leaders want to see happen on the east side of town. The rejuvenation of the resort, the mall redesigned to draw tenants and shoppers, and a smooth Route 64 serving as the gateway to the city is kind of an economic chain reaction Mayor Ray Rogina yearns for.
"It sends me a signal that there's a good revival on the east side," Rogina said. "People, businesses are looking at St. Charles and seeing city government is being pro-active at attempts to revitalize the local economy. I'm happy to see Pheasant Run is moving into a new manager's hands. With the traffic they create from conferences and the kinds of shows they put on, it would have been a tragedy for it to go by the wayside."