Big Ten exercises right to buy restaurant space in Rosemont headquarters building

In a surprise move, the Big Ten Conference has informed Rosemont it will exercise its right of refusal and purchase the rest of the building housing its headquarters — a deal that will make the athletic conference the new landlord of the popular Fogo de Chão restaurant.

The village had a pending deal to sell the 11,000-square-foot first-floor restaurant space to an undisclosed investor for $7,375,350, but the Big Ten had 30 days to decide if it wanted to buy the rest of the building first, under terms of an agreement signed when the conference headquarters and restaurant opened in 2013.

Mayor Brad Stephens said the Big Ten notified the village Friday, just two days before the 5 p.m. Sunday deadline.

He said last month that the Big Ten might not exercise its option because becoming landlord to the Brazilian steakhouse could affect the conference's nonprofit status.

But Stephens on Monday said lawyers and other officials who reviewed the deal for the Big Ten didn't think it would affect the organization's status.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed, but it's believed the Big Ten offered slightly more for the property than the undisclosed investor's bid.

The three-story, 50,000-square-foot building, on the south end of the Parkway Bank Park entertainment district, also contains a small office for village management staff of the complex. They'll be able to stay there for the next two years, but then have to move out, under the proposed sales agreement.

Stephens said there will be room for park management staff once the new village hall is built across the Tri-State Tollway in The Pearl District mixed-use complex.

Also Monday, the village board inked separate agreements to sell two other buildings in the entertainment district to the ownership group that runs both businesses through existing leases with the village. Boston-based Lyons Group is paying $6,675,000 for the Kings Dining & Entertainment bowling alley and $950,000 for the neighboring Five Roses Pub.

Stephens attributed the price difference mainly to the size of the properties — the pub is 5,000 square feet and the bowling alley is 30,000 square feet.

Lyons Group plans to shut down the Irish pub and convert it into a Mediterranean eatery. Among the first venues to open at the park in 2012, the tavern's business has declined in recent years.

“They saw the numbers were great starting out, and it just started to dwindle down,” Stephens said.

Plans call for the pub to close in September or October, build out the Mediterranean restaurant over the winter, and open it at the beginning of 2023. Architects are now working on drawings, which could include a second-floor outdoor deck and first-floor patio.

While Lyons has three months to close on the Kings deal, the restaurateur has 18 months on the other one — during which time they'll be able to lease the property at reduced rents. But if the new restaurant doesn't open in 18 months, the village will get the building back.

Rosemont to sell Fogo de Chao restaurant space for $7.3 million, if Big Ten OKs deal

  This three-story, 50,000-square-foot building on the south end of Rosemont's Parkway Bank Park - home of the Big Ten Conference and Fogo de Chão - will be sold by the village to the athletic conference, under a pending deal. Christopher Placek/
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