New owners are sprucing up one of Rolling Meadows' most iconic landmarks, the three 12-story office buildings along Golf Road and the Jane Addams Tollway known as Continental Towers, in hopes of returning the complex to its early 1980s heyday.
GlenStar Properties plans to build a parking garage over a retaining pond, refurbish the fronts of the three identical buildings, and make improvements to the lobbies, landscaping and drives that approach the buildings, said Larry Debb, a company principal.
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The Rolling Meadows Plan Commission recently approved the proposals, and the city council will consider them at an upcoming meeting.
Mayor Tom Rooney called the news "a definite uptick. We're hoping to soon get to the 'really happening' stage."
Rooney said more office employees and visitors could bring business to restaurants in the area.
GlenStar purchased Continental Towers, which features 910,000-square-feet of office and commercial space on 34 acres, about a year ago, Debb said. It its first year as owner, the company spent $6 million on infrastructure improvements, such as roofs, air conditioning, elevators and caulking windows, he said.
The entrance drives need reconfiguring for aesthetic reasons, as well as the fact that the current layout promotes dangerous cross traffic, Debb added.
"It's a 900,000-square-foot Class A office complex, and the main drive goes into the truck dock," he told the plan commission recently.
The owners plan to paint the mullions -- the vertical structural elements between windows -- to accent the front doors and give the buildings a more vertical look. And since the buildings are nearly identical, GlenStar will use color to differentiate them. The canopy for each main entrance will be a different color, as will exterior lighting on the buildings.
The new 669-car garage will be gray precast concrete in hopes it will not be very visible. The retention pond location is the only place where the new parking would be convenient to all three buildings without putting it in front of the complex, Debb said.
Komatsu America, a manufacturer of heavy construction equipment, is an anchor tenant of the towers whose lease is expiring. GlenStar is negotiating a new lease, and one of the equipment giant's requests is a grass berm along the tollway where it can display three pieces of its equipment, Debb said. GlenStar also plans a new boulevard into the Komatsu building, away from the rest of the complex.
Rational USA, which makes combination steam and dry heat commercial ovens, recently moved its North American headquarters from Schaumburg and built a showroom and training facility in the Commercium, a fourth building at the complex that houses amenities, including a health club. Rational is in a long-vacant spot that last held the Magnum restaurant.
GlenStar's website, glenstarproperties.com, says the complex is 60 percent leased and was acquired for 70 percent less than its replacement cost.