‘It won’t sit fallow’: Rolling Meadows forges ahead with zoning review near Arlington Park

Despite the uncertainty over the future of the Chicago Bears at Arlington Park, officials in nearby Rolling Meadows are still proceeding with planning and zoning studies on two key areas near the shuttered racetrack.

Results of the first study — on the Kirchoff Road corridor — are due back from a consultant in October, Mayor Lara Sanoica said during the annual State of the City address Thursday morning. The so-called subarea plan will be followed in 2025 by a review of the city’s northwest industrial district, which is the area directly west of the old horse racing facility.

The land use and zoning analysis will take into consideration what Sanoica called the “ever-evolving” development goals of the now-vacant 326 acres in Arlington Heights.

Rolling Meadows Mayor Lara Sanoica

Should the Bears not develop the property with an NFL stadium and mixed-use district, Arlington Heights officials have publicized a 23-item list of prohibited uses, including warehouses, storerooms, adult businesses, car washes, currency exchanges, kiddie parks and funeral parlors.

Knowing that, officials in Rolling Meadows can make some “deductive reasoning approaches” to what could potentially be developed there, whether it’s a stadium, entertainment venue, or some other kind of “eclectic” use, said City Manager Rob Sabo.

“As the Bears and Arlington Heights work on whatever the outcome is going to be for that property, the one thing that we know is that it won’t sit fallow,” Sabo said. “It will not remain an empty vacant parcel for very long.”

Rolling Meadows’ industrial area — roughly bounded by Euclid Avenue, Rohlwing Road, Northwest Highway and Hicks Road — is mainly filled with factories and other businesses.

But the zoning and land uses could change, Sabo said.

Rolling Meadows City Manager Rob Sabo

“Industrial is hot right now, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be 5 to 10 years from now,” Sabo said. “Times evolve and things change, and this area may have a lot of Realtor focus because of Arlington Park becoming a Bears stadium, and that may change the value of a lot of the properties in that area. We want to be ready for that. We don't want to be reactive. We’re working on this proactively.”

Meanwhile, the Kirchoff Road planning already in progress aims to restore what had been the city’s traditional downtown with additional businesses and commercial users. The city council last fall enacted a moratorium on any development along the corridor so the new land use study could be completed.

Aldermen and residents have expressed a desire for a return to “more of a downtown feel,” Sabo said.

“We know that Kirchoff Road is an area that developers are looking at. We wanted to make sure that we had the zoning in place so that we could get the right types of development that our community wanted to see,” he said.

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