Possible Plan B for Itasca hotel that Haymarket wants: Another interested buyer
Haymarket Center's bid to convert an Itasca hotel into a drug and alcohol treatment center took a twist this week when a resident said he would be willing to acquire the property if the Chicago-based nonprofit group doesn't buy it.
"I have a legitimate and absolute interest in owning the property should it not be under contract anymore with Haymarket," said Larry Swets, an investor who lives in Itasca. He said the property could remain viable as a hotel.
Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn on Wednesday released a statement saying that Swets has expressed interest in the Holiday Inn along Irving Park Road. The revelation comes as Haymarket is trying to get village approval to convert the hotel into a 240-bed facility for patients with substance-use disorders.
Pruyn made the announcement because Swets' brother, Eric Swets, serves on the village's plan commission, which is reviewing Haymarket's proposal. Pruyn said Eric Swets has recused himself from the Haymarket case.
Since October, the plan commission has hosted a series of public hearings on Haymarket's proposal. But the hearings have been delayed because of pending litigation between Haymarket and the village.
When the plan commission eventually continues its review of Haymarket's plan, Pruyn said Eric Swets "will no longer participate in the hearings or vote on a recommendation in this case."
Ultimately, it will be up to the village board to decide if the project can move forward as a planned development.
On Thursday, officials said Haymarket remains under contract to buy the hotel at 860 W. Irving Park Road. They declined to provide the asking price. But Haymarket has said it would spend roughly $1.5 million to remodel the interior of the building.
"We remain undeterred and our resolve to expand access to care has never been stronger," said Dr. Dan Lustig, Haymarket's president and CEO.
If approved, the proposed facility in Itasca would provide a "full continuum of health care services," including primary care, for adults 18 and older. The patients would primarily come from DuPage and other collar counties.
But there's been considerable opposition to the plan from residents who say Itasca is too small to support the proposed facility.
In addition to costing the town tax revenue by replacing the hotel, they say, the center would strain police and emergency services. The fire protection district has one ambulance and needed voters to approve a property tax hike to help balance its budget.
News of Swets' interest in the Holiday Inn was met with excitement on the "No Itasca Haymarket" Facebook group.
Swets has acquired a variety of properties in Itasca. In 2014, he led a group of investors that bought Itasca Country Club so it could be maintained as a golf course and social club.
"It makes sense that someone would want to buy the hotel," James Diestel, a member of the Concerned Citizens of Itasca group. "With a little modernization of the rooms, it will be a great investment and continue to be a staple of Itasca."
Swets said he recently reached out to representatives of the property owner to express his interest.
"My interest is for investment purposes," said Swets, adding that he believes the building is still viable as a hotel.
"As an investment," he said, "I think it makes sense as a hotel."