$8 million hurdle to old fairgrounds site development eliminated
What had been considered an impediment to the potential development of the former Lake County Fairgrounds site in Grayslake has been dissolved.
The Lake County Board voted without comment Tuesday to terminate an agreement with the village that required millions in fees for road work near the long-vacant site at Route 45 and Route 120.
Grayslake officials voted last week to end the agreement, originally struck in 2005 and amended in 2014.
"At this point, $8 million in fees the developer would have to have paid have been removed," said Brett Kryska, assistant village manager.
Nonetheless, a concept for a mix of homes and retail uses on the 104-acre property recently was withdrawn.
"We did have a developer that brought forth a preliminary sketch plan," Kryska said. "After gathering input from the (planning and zoning) commission, they decided not to proceed."
Mayor Rhett Taylor said the proposal envisioned single-family homes and townhouses on up to 75% of the site.
"We said that won't be acceptable at the village board," Taylor said. "Our primary need in Grayslake is to diversify the property tax base.
"This essentially lifts a large burden from any potential developer. I would hope that would spur interest."
The original pact set $20 million to offset the impact of a planned 807,000-square-foot-retail center that never materialized.
The Lake County Fair Association sold the property to a Cleveland-area real estate firm, which still owns it. The buildings were demolished in 2018.
County officials said many of the identified road improvements, such as widening Route 45 to Route 120, have been completed, making the agreement moot. Also, county officials noted, the Illinois Department of Transportation plans to rebuild and widen about a mile of Route 120 from Ashford Lane west of the fairgrounds to Route 45.
"Our concerns just aren't the same anymore," Shane Schneider, director of the Lake County Division of Transporation said during a recent discussion. "We don't think we need massive transportation improvements here today."
Lake County Board member John Wasik of Grayslake worked to get the agreement dissolved.
"I look forward to seeing the parcel developed in an environmentally responsible way that brings income into the village and doesn't place a burden on the schools and other public services," he said.
Grayslake would have the authority to approve a development, but Lake County would have jurisdiction involving access to Center Street on the north side of the site.