Rosemont reaches $12.7 million deal for last undeveloped property in town

Tucked in between the Jane Addams Tollway and O'Hare International Airport, the last major undeveloped property in Rosemont has a new owner: the village government.

Village officials have long pursued acquisition of the open 19 acres — the site of a former Ramada hotel complex and par-3 golf course — and even threatened condemnation in 2020.

But on Monday, Mayor Brad Stephens announced village hall reached a deal with owner Development Resources Inc. for $12,750,000. The village board formally authorized the purchase of 6608 N. Mannheim Road, set to close Nov. 1.

“This is a long time coming, and we're happy to finally have control of it,” Stephens said.

There are no immediate plans for the land, but various proposals have come and gone over the decades — all with little movement.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Development Resources planned to build a multi-tower office complex. At one point, there was a proposal to attract office users and retailers who were being forced out of the Merchandise Mart. A Hollywood-type movie studio was even floated.

The Chicago-based developer/owner later suggested a truck terminal site, but village officials quickly shot it down.

“It's not the highest and best use,” Stephens said.

Whatever is built there, the site has a number of infrastructure and access issues to deal with, he noted.

Though access could come solely from Mannheim, officials hope to negotiate with the owner of office buildings on Higgins Road for permission to build a driveway to get to and from the new development. Since the site is bounded by Willow Creek on the south, developers would first have to build a bridge to reach Higgins and the existing streetlight at Patton Drive.

In the shadow of planes taking off and landing at O'Hare, a portion of the property is in a runway protection zone designated by the Federal Aviation Administration. So that's where needed parking and stormwater detention — at up to a $10 million cost — is envisioned, Stephens said.

To help pay for it all, the village plans to parcel out the property from a bigger tax increment financing district it set up in 2014, and put the land in a new TIF of its own. That would restart the 23-year clock, under state law, where property taxes collected above a certain level would be diverted to pay for site improvements.

Though similar attempts have faced legal challenges by school districts, Stephens believes the new TIF would pass legal muster.

The land deal was brokered by Bill Ryan, Rosemont's longtime property attorney, and Marc Offit, the commercial real estate broker who has done a number of developments in town in recent years. Stephens called Offit “instrumental” in the deal but said he isn't taking a fee at this point, suggesting Offit would if he helps a redevelopment come to fruition there.

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  Once a par-3 golf course and part of a sprawling Ramada hotel complex, a 19-acre property in Rosemont is being purchased for redevelopment by the village. Christopher Placek/
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