Elk Grove Village's purchase of shopping center will mean closure of bowling alley, but not bakery

Elk Grove Village is paying $12.7 million to buy a shopping center at the northern gateway to town, with an eye toward redevelopment that officials say will preserve some iconic businesses there, but close at least one of them.

The village board Tuesday night inked two separate purchase and sale agreements. One, worth $2 million, is with the third-generation owners of Elk Grove Bowl, which has anchored the plaza on the southeast corner of Arlington Heights and Higgins roads since 1963.

The other agreement, worth $10.7 million, is with the Nieman family, longtime owners of the strip center. Now called Elk Grove Woods Plaza, it was the first shopping center to open in Elk Grove in 1959.

The deals, which are scheduled to close Dec. 30, include everything on the prominent corner except a Shell gas station.

The transactions will mean closure of the bowling alley, likely by the end of April, while the village will be taking over the leases of 10 businesses that populate the shopping center, according to Mayor Craig Johnson.

The village will put out a request for proposals to developers in early 2022 for a potential mixed use development that would preserve as many of the retailers as possible, while adding a housing component, Johnson said. Officials' early vision calls for a 250-unit apartment building of 3-5 stories on the bowling alley site closer to Arlington Heights Road, and a retail building along Higgins.

The municipality got involved when staffers in the village engineering department last summer got word of a few groups that were interested in the bowling alley property. Two asked if village zoning would allow a used car sales lot there, and one asked about a self-storage building, the mayor said.

"We talked as a board - that's truly not what we envisioned being at the preeminent entryway to this community," Johnson said.

The 40-lane, 40,000-square-foot bowling alley, which includes a bar, billiards room and arcade, is expected to close when leagues conclude in April, Johnson said. That's before a generally slow summer season for the business, he added.

Johnson said he spoke to some of the other business owners in the shopping center, including Jarosch Bakery, Tensuke Market, Rose Garden Cafe and 7 Mile Cycles, who want to stay on the corner and be part of the new redevelopment.

The mayor says that's his goal, adding that the village will honor all existing leases. Construction on the new mixed use project wouldn't begin until the spring of 2023, and when it does, the development would be built in phases to allow the businesses to remain in operation.

"I can't tell Jarosch Bakery to shut down for a year," Johnson said of the iconic business.

Johnson said he frequently visited the bowling alley in his youth, but while waxing nostalgic, he also said such old suburban strip shopping centers are becoming a thing of the past.

"This is our first one. It may not be our last one," Johnson said of other strip retail redevelopments. "It's time has come and we have this golden opportunity to do it."

Plans call for the new development to be complete by the end of 2024.

  Jarosch Bakery is expected to be part of a proposed redevelopment of the shopping center that it's called home since 1958. The bakery is the oldest Elk Grove Village business in the same location. Mark Welsh/, 2009
  Rose Garden Cafe on Higgins Road in Elk Grove Village is among the long-standing businesses whose owners want to be part of a proposed redevelopment of the shopping center. Jake Griffin/, 2015
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