St. Charles leaders on Pheasant Run: 'We'd like to be a partner' in efforts 'to reinvent that space'
Pheasant Run has been woven into the fabric of St. Charles for decades, city leaders say.
High school and college students sought part-time jobs working at the resort. Community members frequented its various shops and amenities. Longtime residents watched it expand over time, drawing vacationers and business professionals from across the Chicago area and beyond.
"It became such a part of our identity back in the day," Mayor Ray Rogina said. "It's been a part of (residents') lives -- for at least a segment of the population -- for almost their entire lives here. There's an emotional tie there."
The future of the iconic 56-year-old resort is uncertain after its management group, Hostmark Hospitality Group, announced plans last week to restructure operations and reduce its staff by more than 75%. But Rogina and City Administrator Mark Koenen say they believe the property offers plenty of development opportunities to revive the eastern gateway to St. Charles.
Perhaps that could include building out the vacant, visually prominent parcels at Route 64 and Kautz Road, Koenen said. Or maybe it means refurbishing and repurposing other pieces of the campus, such as the hotel tower or conference center.
The resort generates $500,000 to $600,000 in tax revenue for the city each year. Regardless of how plans unfold, Koenen said, St. Charles officials want to be involved.
"I'd like to think we could reinvent that space," he said. "Would I like to have a hotel back there? Of course. But if the marketplace doesn't think that makes some sense, then what does?
"We'd like to be a partner in making something happen."
Roughly 150 of 190 Pheasant Run employees are expected to be laid off by mid-January amid an ongoing assessment of the property, Hostmark leaders told the Daily Herald on Friday. Resort owners decided to scale back operations in the offseason while "pursuing various options" for its future, company President and CEO Jerome Cataldo said.
Details of the resort's restructuring are unknown, though Cataldo said the plans do not include closing the facility at this time. The site is being marketed for sale on the Colliers International real estate company website as an "extraordinary lodging investment and redevelopment opportunity."
The property is within the city's business regional zoning district -- a broad classification that could incorporate most nonindustrial or nonresidential uses, Koenen said. Ideally, he said, St. Charles and resort officials would work with a redevelopment agency to get a "real handle on what their needs are."
This isn't the first sign of struggle for Pheasant Run, which was founded in 1963. The property fell into foreclosure in 2011 and was purchased three years later by an investment group.
In 2016, the DuPage Airport Authority filed a condemnation lawsuit to block a residential development proposed for the resort's golf course. As part of a settlement agreement, the airport paid Pheasant Run $8.9 million for the nearly 94-acre course and maintenance building to "prevent incompatible development adjacent to the airport," Executive Director Mark Doles said.
Pheasant Run, which still owns the hotel and a majority of the frontage along Route 64, has continued operating the golf course since the land deal was finalized. The two parties agreed in September to extend the arrangement through October 2020, Doles said.
The airport authority has "no interest at this point" in acquiring additional Pheasant Run property, he said.
Hostmark leaders said separation notices have started being delivered to employees. Pheasant Run will continue honoring existing reservations through the end of February, operators said.
• Daily Herald staff writer Robert Sanchez contributed to this report.