Schaumburg wrestles with parking problem as entertainment district pushes ahead
Schaumburg officials are getting down to brass tacks on many of the more practical aspects of a long-discussed entertainment district around the Schaumburg Convention Center and its adjoining Renaissance Hotel, including road realignments, more land acquisition and -- perhaps most importantly -- a four- to six-level parking deck.
Village Manager Brian Townsend told trustees last week that while Renaissance staff members haven't said current parking limitations are preventing the convention center from hosting any requested shows, about six to 10 shows each year express a desire to see more spaces available.
And that need would only increase with a possible future expansion of the convention center, as well as the construction of more entertainment venues nearby.
"If you want to have a convention center, you have to have all the amenities that go with it, and parking is definitely one of them," Townsend said.
Any parking structure would be as close to the convention center as possible and designed in a way that future developments could be wrapped around it and hide it from view, he added.
Trustee Marge Connelly said construction of a parking deck likely would be at the village's own financial risk, but it could be a catalyst for entertainment venues village officials would like to see on the 70 acres along the east side of Meacham Road between Algonquin Road and the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway.
Trustee Tom Dailly said the potential parking deck does create a sort of chicken-or-egg dilemma for the village board, but he felt swayed by the fact that some annual shows already are complaining about the availability of parking.
"If we wait too long, maybe they'll go someplace else," he said.
Trustees directed staff to start exploring designs and cost estimates for a parking deck. Townsend said it would take about 90 days to come up with the preliminary level of information the board is requesting.
Another question officials expect to address is whether the village should start charging for parking at any or all shows hosted by the convention center as a revenue source for the property.
Village resident Dennis Corcoran weighed in on the positive side.
He said he regularly takes out-of-town guests with him to the annual Mecum Auto Auctions at the convention center and would rather pay for on-site parking than make them wait in the rain for a shuttle bus.
One of the biggest components of the proposed entertainment district will be the land the village bought in 2017 just north of the Renaissance Hotel, where the single-story, 110,000-square-foot Woodfield Green Executive Centre stands now. It was recently supplemented by the village's acquisition of three acres where Ron Santo's American Rotisserie formerly stood on Meacham Road.
Both sites are expected to provide space for restaurants and other privately-owned entertainment venues.
Village officials hope the land currently housing the Cook County Highway Maintenance facility at the southeast corner of Meacham and Algonquin may eventually be incorporated into the entertainment district as well.
The long-term plans also include realigning the curving Thoreau Drive's intersections with both Meacham and Algonquin roads, creating a new north-south road just west of the Renaissance Hotel and turning the currently private Drummer Drive to the north into a wider public road.
Officials are also considering repurposing the encircled "Embrace" area in front of the Renaissance from a purely decorative space into an outdoor visitors plaza with seating.
There also is a desire to create walking trails on the east side of the property for the benefit of visitors and the residents of the adjacent Walden Condominiums.
Trustees are still reserving the land west of the Renaissance for a 2,800-seat performing arts center on the condition they can determine a funding plan for its estimated $87 million cost and find an operator capable of competing directly with the Chicago theater market.
However, they also believe the rest of the entertainment district would not be dependent on the performing arts center.