Massive Spa Forest complex gets green light from Wheeling board

  • Wheeling village trustees granted permits Monday clearing the way for construction of Spa Forest in a three-story office building on the northeast corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Dundee Road.

    Wheeling village trustees granted permits Monday clearing the way for construction of Spa Forest in a three-story office building on the northeast corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Dundee Road. Courtesy of Manhard Consulting

 
By Jennifer Shea
Daily Herald correspondent
Updated 1/21/2020 3:23 PM

The Wheeling village board approved permits Monday clearing the way for construction of a sprawling full-service spa in a vacant office building at 350 E. Dundee Road.

C. Castle Group, a hotel, resort and luxury spa developer based in Flushing, New York, expects to open the Spa Forest in the redeveloped 70,565-square-foot office building in about two years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Trustees Ray Lang, Mary Papantos, Joe Vito and David Vogel voted to approve the spa, while Trustee Jim Ruffatto voted against it. Trustee Mary Krueger was absent.

The plan for Spa Forest includes indoor spa pools, an outdoor spa pool, roof garden, saunas, massage rooms, a business lounge, internet game room, juice and sushi bars, and a restaurant and lounge. Some areas of the spa would operate 24 hours a day.

C. Castle Group, which operates similar facilities in New York and Texas, sought a special use permit and a major site plan and appearance permit to redevelop the office building that previously was home to Solex College and Cole Taylor Bank.

In addition to redeveloping the existing space, C. Castle Group plans a 6,844-square-foot first floor addition that will serve as the new main entrance, and a 9,029-square-foot second story addition featuring the outdoor pool and roof deck.

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The Wheeling plan commission recommended the project Jan. 8. The conditions of their recommendation included a parking lot renovation, that the developer apply for sign approval separately, that the front of the trash enclosure be covered with limestone and that trees on the property be pruned.

Interim Director of Community Development Michael D'Onofrio cautioned that the project may take awhile.

"Given the complexity and the amount of improvements to be made to this, staff is recommending that (the permit) be extended from one year to two," he said. "There will be major changes to the floor plans from an interior perspective."

Papantos and Ruffatto voiced concerns about the spa remaining open 24 hours a day. Papantos had safety concerns, with there being only 5 to 7 employees at the facility overnight. Ruffatto asked what was the point of keeping the spa open all night when the showers close at 2 a.m.

Manhard Consulting project manager Jared Placek explained that they need time to clean the showers.

Lang worried that in the past, they'd dealt with developers who got special use permits only to wait until the permit expired to begin work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Is that extension to two years the actual occupancy of the project?" he asked. "When will this project actually start?"

Placek said their team intends to pursue occupancy within two years.

"The goal would be to start construction as soon as we can work our way through that permitting and approval process," he said.

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