Arlington Heights approves first Bears demolition permit for Arlington Park

Arlington Heights officials approved a building permit Friday for the first phase of demolition at the Bears' Arlington Park property.

An application for the permit was submitted to the village's building and life safety department May 3, covering interior demolition of the six-story grandstand and the two-story office and jockey building.

Interior demolition is set to begin Tuesday, a Bears official confirmed.

A second permit application submitted by the NFL franchise May 4 is pending at village hall. Its approval would allow for the full-scale teardown of the first two buildings, plus the west and east entrances, paddock, concession, main shed, scoreboard and guard house.

"Permits for exterior demolition of buildings will be reviewed and approved separately by both the village of Arlington Heights and Cook County," village officials said in a statement Friday morning. "Increased truck traffic due to the interior demolition is possible in the area and the property will continue to be monitored by security 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."

Most of the disposal material will be transported to the Lakeshore Recycling Systems waste transfer station on Powis Road in West Chicago. Some of it will go to the waste hauler's transfer station just blocks away on Berdnick Street in Rolling Meadows, according to a site demolition traffic logistics map.

Some 20 to 30 trucks are expected to be coming to and from the site every day, officials said.

Trucks will use three access points: the old backstretch entrance at Industrial Avenue and Rohlwing Road, the Euclid Avenue gate, and near the old Trackside off-track betting parlor at Euclid Avenue and Wilke Road, according to the map.

Metra commuters will be able to still get to the parking lot and train station from Wilke Road and Commuter Drive.

The contractor on the job is St. Charles-based Alpine Demolition Services.

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said last week the village doesn't have the authority to withhold approval of commercial building demolition for any reason if an application is complete and if a property owner's demolition plans comply with the village code. The village does have discretion over demolition permits for residential properties and in the downtown, he added.

The teardowns - expected to cost the Bears $3.8 million, records show - are being done with an eye toward eventual property tax savings for the NFL club, which closed on its $197.2 million purchase of the old racetrack in February.

Bears President and CEO Kevin Warren said demolition of the buildings would "reduce our operating cost and lower the assessed value of the land so that we can realize a realistic property tax during the predevelopment period," according to a May 4 letter he sent to superintendents of three area school districts.

Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi earlier this year hiked the value of the 326-acre property from $33.5 million to $197 million, which would increase the annual tax bill from $2.8 million to $16.2 million. Among factors the assessor's office cited is that the Bears haven't applied for vacancy status on the site, and that even though the last horse race was in 2021, the track has the capacity to be fully functional again.

A hearing on the appeal of the reassessment is scheduled before the Cook County Board of Review next Friday.

Bears file paperwork to begin demolition of Arlington Park grandstand and other structures

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'Substantial gulf': Schools refuse to counter Bears' property tax offer

'This is not a minor project': Arlington Park teardown to cost Bears $3.8 million

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