Indoor climbing facility could be coming to Arlington Downs with help from tax break
A tax incentive could help kick-start redevelopment of a shuttered water park on the Arlington Downs site in Arlington Heights into a destination indoor rock climbing facility.
Village officials said a $4.5 million purchase and renovation of the former 42,000-square-foot CoCo Key Waterpark into a First Ascent recreational climbing venue is contingent on approval of the Cook County Class 7c property tax break, which is pending review by county commissioners after being endorsed last week by the village board.
It would be the first suburban location for First Ascent, which offers rock climbing terrain, yoga classes and fitness equipment at four sites in Chicago and one in Peoria. The climbing gym also would be an anchor in the ambitious Arlington Downs mixed-use redevelopment at the northeast corner of Euclid Avenue and Rohlwing Road.
"The climbing industry has been growing as an entertainment venue. There are not many climbing facilities in this large of a space in this market," said Charles Witherington-Perkins, Arlington Heights' director of planning and community development. "This would be a big plus for the area and for the development in bringing people in from a large area."
The old water park is attached to the One Arlington residential tower, a former Sheraton hotel that closed in 2009. It was converted to housing and became the first piece of the redevelopment to open in 2015.
Developer Springbank Real Estate Group's latest plans for the 27-acre site -- including the climbing facility -- were approved by the village board in 2018. But Witherington-Perkins said First Ascent's contract to acquire the former water park and land to the west for a 175-space parking garage was continued until the county incentive could be approved.
Under the Class 7c program, commercial property is assessed at 10% of market value for the first three years, 15% in the fourth year, and 20% in the fifth year. Normally, property would be assessed at 25%.
Village officials said the fitness facility, once developed, would easily recoup the five-year property tax reduction.
Renovations could begin by next spring, with occupancy next summer or early next fall, officials said.
About the same time, construction should be wrapping up on a five-story, 263-unit apartment building on the southeast corner of the Arlington Downs site. Crews are brick-cladding the exterior and have finished building an adjacent garage.
Plans also call for a four-story, 116-room hotel near the Euclid Avenue/Rohlwing Road intersection under the brand of Best Western's urban boutique hotel concept Vib.
A real estate brokerage firm is marketing some 40,000 square feet of retail throughout the development site.
Future phases propose a 55-and-older residential building on the southeast corner of the site and a 360-unit residential development on the northwest corner.