Airport plans to buy site of former 94th Aero Squadron restaurant
The Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling plans to buy adjoining property where an aviation-themed restaurant once stood.
Formerly home to the 94th Aero Squadron restaurant, the roughly 4 vacant acres near Milwaukee Avenue and Tower Road will cost $1.1 million. The land is on the south side of the airport property.
The restaurant closed in 2011 after more than 30 years in business. The building was razed in 2014.
The airport is run by a board of directors but is jointly owned by Wheeling and Prospect Heights, so officials in both communities must approve the deal.
The Wheeling village board took that action Monday night. The Prospect Heights City Council could consider the issue at its Jan. 10 meeting, City Manager Joe Wade said.
Wheeling and Prospect Heights purchased most of the airport land in 1986 -- but the restaurant site wasn't acquired by the towns. It's independently owned by an aviation ground support and service company called Signature Flight Support that now is ready to sell.
"We've been going after this property ever since it was sold ... to Signature," said Wheeling Trustee Ray Lang, who also serves on the airport board. "We're very happy as a board to secure that land."
Signature operates at the airport and will continue to do so, airport Executive Director Jeff Miller said. A Signature representative couldn't be reached for comment.
The airport's board approved the deal at its last meeting.
Miller said the deal should close in about three months. Funding will come from airport financial reserves, he said. No public tax dollars will be used.
"The airport is self-sufficient from its own user fees to aircraft," Miller said.
The Federal Aviation Administration has recommended the airport purchase the property because it's so close to active taxiways, runways and other airport facilities, according to a memo from Wheeling Village Manager Jon Sfondilis.
Additionally, the agency discourages operations that are based on land near an airport, but not part of an airport, to have access taxiways, Sfondilis wrote.
The pending purchase will allow the property and adjacent lots already owned by the airport to be developed for aviation uses. A master plan developed for the airport calls for aircraft hangar storage on the site, Miller said.