Village hopes remain high for Arlington Downs, despite slow progress
Although there hasn't been much physical work happening at the Arlington Downs development along Euclid Avenue this summer, Arlington Heights officials say the project still is progressing, just slower than they had hoped.
The planned $250-million mixed-use redevelopment of the former Sheraton hotel first broke ground in March 2013. More than three years later, the only phase completed is the transformation of the old hotel into a luxury apartment complex.
The residential tower, One Arlington, is nearly 95 percent leased, and the next phases of the massive project are on the horizon, said Charles Perkins, the village's director of planning and community development.
Construction will begin either later this year or early next year on one of the planned retail buildings proposed for the outlot along Euclid Road, Perkins said. So far, developers have secured a Potbelly Sandwich Shop with a drive-through lane for the end unit of the 10,000- to 12,000-square-foot building. The building will have room for several other tenants.
The project -- originally planned to include multiple apartment towers, a new hotel and water park, restaurants, retail, entertainment venues and walkable pathways -- has gotten caught in a puzzle of trying to find financing and tenants in the post-recession environment, Perkins said.
"There's a lot of interest in the site from the retail and restaurant point of view, but everybody wants to see the next building go in first," he said. "It's kind of a chicken and egg situation."
Four Points by Sheraton had announced plans to construct a hotel on the property in 2014. But Perkins said it has been more difficult to secure financing for the proposed hotel than for residential or retail projects.
"That's still part of the plan," he added. "Hotels are much more complex and more difficult. It doesn't mean they can't or won't do it, but it's a challenge."
Representatives from the Arlington Downs development team did not return calls for comment.
The former Sheraton hotel on the site near Arlington International Racecourse and the Route 53 interchange with Euclid Avenue closed in 2009.
Developers initially said the whole project would be completed in four years. Perkins said there is no current timeline for the development.
When it is completed, Arlington Downs will be one of the largest developments in the area and is expected to boost tax revenues for the village.
"We are still very excited about it. This is a big project and massive undertaking," Perkins said. "I think the developers, and us, would have hoped it would have moved a little quicker, but it's not through lack of effort on anyone's part. We know how complicated this kind of development is."