Des Plaines approves 7-story parking deck, 9-story hotel
The Des Plaines City Council Monday night approved preliminary plans for a massive parking garage and a 180-room hotel on a long-vacant property near O'Hare International Airport.
Plans include a 7-story parking deck, a roughly 4,000-square-foot fast-food restaurant that may include a drive-through, and a 9-story hotel on a nearly five-acre, formerly city-owned property at the northeast corner of Mannheim and Higgins roads, just south of the Jane Addams Tollway.
The structures are nearly double the size of what was originally proposed for the site in February and will require modifying the city code to allow for the 86-foot-tall garage and a 90-foot-tall hotel. The requested height is consistent with existing commercial properties in the area, city Senior Planner Scott Mangum said.
City Manager Mike Bartholomew said developer TPS Des Plaines LLC would have to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for the taller structures.
The 2,350-stall parking garage is the first local project for Chicago-based The Parking Spot, which owns and operates off-site airport parking in 40 locations at 25 airports throughout the country.
The garage will primarily serve commuters to O'Hare International Airport and offer shuttle service. It may also serve visitors to the Rivers Casino and the Allstate Arena in Rosemont.
"We're based in Chicago and we don't have a location here right now," said Kevin Shrier, chief operating officer of The Parking Spot.
Ward 6 Alderman Mark Walsten urged the developer to try for the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for the parking garage project.
Shrier said LEED certification currently isn't available for parking structures; however, the U.S. Green Parking Council has standards for green parking garages. Shrier added his company is committed to environmentally-friendly practices and operates shuttle buses that run on compressed natural gas, conserving on fuel and maintenance costs.
"We are trying to do our part in making (airports) cleaner," he said.
Shrier said the Des Plaines parking garage will have electric vehicle hookups and can have a compressed natural gas fueling station on-site.
Construction on the garage could begin by year end, but the hotel likely won't be built for several years.
"Right now we think the market is great for off-airport parking," Shrier said.
If the parking garage doesn't get built within a year after approval, the city gets to take back that portion of the property.
The city agreed to sell the roughly five acres to the developer for $1.1 million. The developer has 18 months to build the restaurant and six years for the hotel, though the sites don't automatically revert to the city if those projects don't get built.
The entire redevelopment project is estimated to generate between $35 million and $40 million in construction work.
Ward 5 Alderman Jim Brookman said the city has no guarantee the hotel will ever be built.
"There is no obligation on the part of The Parking Spot to build a hotel," he said.
Brookman said the hotel development is a key part of the redevelopment agreement, which is why the city sold the land to The Parking Spot at a marked-down price.
The property, home to Ace car rental, a large billboard and a former TraveLodge, falls within the city's tax increment financing district No. 6.
The district was created in 2001 to spur redevelopment in the area east of Mannheim Road and north of Higgins Road on both sides of the I-90 tollway. It captures increased property tax revenue from redevelopment -- money that normally would go to taxing bodies such as schools -- that can be used to defray costs of redeveloping the area.
The city is trying to recoup money it spent buying and clearing land for earlier redevelopment projects that stalled due to a weak economy and a hotel glut. Without development, the TIF is expected to be $5.9 million in deficit by the end of this fiscal year and $19.7 million in deficit over its lifetime.
In April 2010, the city gave up on a plan that included two Hyatt hotels, restaurants and shops. In April 2011, several developers submitted proposals and The Parking Spot was selected to lead a new effort. But now the developer is asking too much money for the hotel portion of the site, Brookman said.
"I think you should significantly reduce your price for the hotel site in order to get a developer to build on that site as quickly as possible," Brookman said.
Shrier said it's also in his best interest to get a hotel built on the site as soon as possible as hotel patrons would be using the parking garage.
"The hotel market is still very difficult right now," he said. "There's not a whole lot of new hotel construction. We think it will take several years for the hotel market to recover to build a hotel there. That's just realistic."