Climbing wall, boutique hotel now part of Arlington Downs project

Developers of a $320 million mixed-use development in Arlington Heights have altered their plans in hopes of starting the next phase of on a project that's been slow to grow.

The 27-acre Arlington Downs development on the northeast corner of Euclid Avenue and Rohlwing Road broke ground in 2013, starting with the redevelopment of the former Sheraton hotel into the 214-unit One Arlington residential tower. While 94 percent of units in that building are occupied, along with the 25N Coworking office on the first floor, ambitious plans for additional housing, as well as a hotel and entertainment and commercial uses have stalled since they were announced in 2012.

"We've been trying to pursue the market as it relates to what we agreed upon - what we wanted it to be," said David Trandel, chairman/CEO of Springbank Real Estate Group, which is leading the development. "At the end of the day, we can only push our will so much. At the end of the day, the market's got to respond."

With an eye to giving the project some momentum, the developer has disclosed revised plans that include a family entertainment center and climbing wall recreation facility in place of a shuttered water park; a scaled-down and rebranded hotel; less commercial space; and senior living residences.

"I feel like we have a renewed vigor so that we can get this done," Trandel said.

Here's a closer look at the plans:

• The initial project called for renovating and reopening the water park behind the former Sheraton, which closed in 2009. But Springbank now plans to lease 30,000 square feet of that vacant space for First Ascent, a recreation facility featuring climbing walls and terrain up to 55 feet tall, fitness studios and gym equipment. The other 20,000 square feet of the building would be leased to Funtopia, which would have an amateur climbing wall, jungle gym/obstacle course and 20-foot tall slide.

• Plans for a six-story, 161-room hotel have changed to a four-story, 116-room hotel. It also would be built in a different spot - closer to the Rohlwing/Euclid intersection and proposed retail sites. Officials say that's the location desired by the hotel operator, Indianapolis-based General Hotels Corp., which would run Vib, the urban boutique hotel concept of Best Western.

• Instead of 442 residential units in one high-rise tower, Springbank is planning a five-story, 263-unit luxury apartment building and a separate 180-unit senior living facility on the southeast corner of the site. A 360-unit residential development would be constructed on the northwest corner of the site.

• The total amount of commercial space on the site would go from about 71,000 to 40,000 square feet - most of it to be within four different retail buildings. A movie theater hasn't been ruled out, but Trandel says there's still no formal deal with the operator he's been talking to for nearly three years. And a 4,500-square-foot space within the One Arlington residential tower originally planned for a restaurant would be used instead to expand 25N's office.

Trandel said a number of quick-service and sit-down eateries have inked letters of intent over the years for commercial space, though nothing's official.

• Springbank has an agreement with the Salt Creek Rural Park District, which owns 13 acres of open land behind the shuttered indoor water park that would be converted to lighted athletic fields for soccer and lacrosse. Developers are hopeful that some $5 million in state funds caught up in the state budget stalemate will be available to reconfigure a water retention pond.

Arlington Heights officials have asked for more detailed floor plans, occupancy calculations and an updated traffic and parking study.

The revisions still need review by the design, housing and plan commissions, and a final vote by the village board.

Trandel hopes construction of the hotel, one of the residential buildings and one retail outlot could begin this summer. He estimates it could be five years until the entire redevelopment comes to fruition.

Village hopes remain high for Arlington Downs, despite slow progress

  The Arlington Downs development, anchored by the One Arlington residential tower, has been slow to develop, prompting developers to revise their plans to try to get the rest of the project off the ground. Mark Welsh/
  Behind the One Arlington building is the attached former water park that developers now want to convert to a family entertainment center and climbing wall facility. Mark Welsh/
A rendering shows a proposed 5-story, 263-unit residential building, right, to be constructed next to the existing One Arlington residential tower at the Arlington Downs development. Courtesy of OKW Architects
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.