‘Something positive is happening’: Buildings torn down at Arlington Heights gateway to make room for apartments and retail

A long-shuttered Applebee’s restaurant, drive-through bank, Cash for Gold business and five-story office building at the southern gateway of Arlington Heights are no more.

Demolition crews this week completed the most visible teardown — the 48-year-old office structure — on the southeast corner of Arlington Heights and Algonquin roads. Now the remaining bricks and mortar will be hauled away to make way for an eight-story, 301-unit apartment building with streetside retail — the first phase of what’s envisioned as a full-scale redevelopment of the corner.

It’s a revitalization nearly two decades in the making. Chicago-based real estate firm Bradford Allen acquired the offices and drive-through bank in 2006, before purchasing the two smaller neighboring properties.

  A five-story office building and three smaller structures, pictured in 2019 on the southeast corner of Arlington Heights and Algonquin roads in Arlington Heights, have met the wrecking ball. Brian Hill/, May 2019

Combined, those sites encompass the 3.85 acres on which Bradford Allen and architect/developer Moceri + Rozsak will soon break ground on their joint venture mixed-use project.

While construction fencing already encircles the site, village officials this week gave the developers permission to affix nearly two dozen temporary signs to blue netting on the fences that will advertise the forthcoming development.

  Signage advertising a forthcoming eight-story, 301-unit apartment building will be affixed to construction fencing at Arlington Heights and Algonquin roads in Arlington Heights. Joe Lewnard/

“We felt some signage above our minimum requirement was appropriate,” said Charles Witherington-Perkins, the village’s director of planning and community development. “It’s important to send a signal that something positive is happening along this corridor.”

Construction activity comes six years after creation of the village’s South Arlington Heights Road Corridor Plan, which outlines a vision for upgrades from the Jane Addams Tollway north to Golf Road. Among the suggestions: loosened zoning rules to facilitate mixed-use developments, making the area more pedestrian-friendly, and improving aesthetics.

Progress has been slow, but demolition activity at three key sites — the gateway corner, the former Arlington Executive Court and International Plaza — are signs that redevelopment is starting to take foot.

“The South Arlington Heights Road corridor is a bit in transition right now,” Perkins said. “Some like this (apartment building) are ready for construction; others aren’t yet.”

A sketch shows the eight-story, 301-unit apartment building set to be built at the south gateway of Arlington Heights. Courtesy of Village of Arlington Heights

Village trustees in December granted zoning approvals for the new building, which will have 49 studios, 159 one-bedroom units, 83 two-bedrooms and 10 three-bedrooms. Nearly 25,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space is being eyed for a possible pizzeria, coffee shop and florist, among other service-oriented retail uses.

The developers are trying to get the neighboring Guitar Center store to relocate to the new building — thereby freeing up the music shop’s building for a future phase of residential development. Preliminary site plans call for a 10-story, 300-unit apartment building with retail — potentially a grocery store — on the Guitar Center site.

  Developers of a mixed-use project at the corner of Arlington Heights and Algonquin roads in Arlington Heights want to acquire the neighboring Guitar Center property for a future phase of redevelopment. Joe Lewnard/

Another phase envisions an eight-story, 200-room hotel and 12-story, 300-unit apartment building where an office complex is on Tonne Drive.

Bradford Allen is now trying to lease the five-story, 153,000-square-foot former Daily Herald building it purchased and renovated for adaptive reuse as the ArlingtonMed medical office complex.

Construction on the first phase apartment building is expected to take 19 months. In total, the developers say it could take up to eight years to redevelop all 16 acres of the corner into a master-planned community.

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