Demolition is expected to begin this week on the former Dominick's building in Rolling Meadows in hopes of spurring redevelopment offers on the long-vacant, 11-acre site, officials said.
Crews have installed fencing, and two large demolition excavator machines that will be used for the teardown sit outside the 130,000-square-foot building.
Dominick's left in 2004, followed later by adjoining small shops in the strip center on Kirchoff Road east of Meadow Drive. Various proposals to develop the site in recent years have fallen through or been rejected.
Plans are to knock down the building and add grass, while property owner Clark Street Development continues efforts to develop the site.
"It'll make the site more attractive for marketing," said Valerie Dehner, Rolling Meadows' community development director. "I believe they have exhausted all attempts to reoccupy that building. They have finally concluded that's just not going to happen. It's going to be new construction whatever it is, whatever form it takes."
A proposal to build a four-story senior housing community of independent- and assisted-living units was rejected by the city council last August, keeping the property zoned as a commercial site for now. A suggestion by one alderman to have the city buy the property was later rejected by a majority of his colleagues.
In 2013, a deal to bring the long-awaited Uncle Joe's Tuscan Fresh Market to the site fell apart after investors in the project failed to secure the necessary financing. The city council previously inked a sales tax-sharing deal and endorsed a property tax break for the store.
Clark Street acquired the shopping plaza in 2012 after it went into foreclosure.
"It was their intention to fill it back up and make it a commercial space," Dehner said. "But from what I understand they had such a difficult time trying to find a mid-size anchor. Nobody wanted to go first and sign their name on the dotted line."
Clark Street put the property up for sale in 2015, leading to the senior housing proposal. Commercial real estate firm Colliers International is still representing Clark Street and has gotten some interest but "no big bites," said City Manager Barry Krumstok.
A number of aldermen and residents have resisted plans that include a residential use, particularly if rental properties are included.
Meanwhile, the fire department conducted training exercises at the site last week and will continue this week in portions of the building, said Fire Chief Scott Franzgrote. Firefighters are using the vacant structure to practice breaking into doors and walls.
"These are things we don't get the chance to practice on in a real building per se," he said.