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Economic Development

Economic development is a key priority for Mount Prospect – and with good reason.

In order to maintain a vibrant community with citizens who are well-served by a thriving local economy, community leaders must make a concerted effort to attract and welcome new businesses and to support the success of current businesses.

Mount Prospect is a bustling 10-square-mile suburb which boasts a healthy retail and professional community, a thriving retail and restaurant lifestyle center and major employers like CVS Caremark, Bosch Tool and Cummins-Allison, according to Bill Cooney, Community Development Director.

The Village benefits from its location which is only a few minutes north of O’Hare International Airport. In addition, residents, visitors and employees of local firms all benefit from easy access to both I-90 and I-294 and from the fact that there is a commuter rail station in the center of town.

As the national economy has gradually improved over the past two years, increased inquiries from parties interested in bringing new businesses to Mount Prospect or expanding existing businesses have kept Cooney and his staff busy.

“Our biggest areas of opportunity for new retail and restaurants, currently, are Randhurst Village, the Mitchell Buick property on Rand Road, Central Plaza at Route 83 and Central Road and Golf Plaza II at Route 83 and Golf Road,” Cooney said.

Randhurst Village shopping center has been a hotbed of activity. Its new owner, DLC Management Corp. of Tarrytown, New York, is enthusiastically moving forward with plans to attract more retailers to the center and is considering additional development, including the possible demolition of the Chase Bank building at the corner of Route 83 and Euclid Avenue and the development of more outlots.

Outback Steak House is expected to open later this year on the site of the former Border’s Books and Papa Saverio’s Pizza has been approved to take over the space of Tony Sacco’s Pizza by late 2015 or early 2016.

The recent openings of Smokey Bones Bar and Fire Grill and Truco Taqueria and Margarita Bar have added to the already festive air of the spaces immediately surrounding the AMC Theater.

The former Mitchell Buick/GMC dealership property along Rand Road is also receiving serious consideration from restaurateurs including Texas Roadhouse Grill and several others that have been “shopping various locations up and down Rand Road” in that general vicinity, according to Cooney.

Elsewhere, Central Plaza was an empty, dilapidated strip center near the center of the community that dated from the 1960s. It was demolished in September and is currently undergoing an environmental clean-up. Once that is complete, a lien will be placed on the property for the cost of that work and the property will go through foreclosure and a subsequent auction. If the Village wins at auction, Cooney said, they will be able to sell the land to a developer. If someone else wins, the Village will get their investment back and will then be able to work with the new owner on a plan for the property’s future, which Cooney hopes will be a mixed-use with retail on the first floor and residential above.

Further south, at Golf Plaza II, the Village is anxious to work with the owner in order to achieve full occupancy through property improvement or redevelopment, according to Cooney. They hope to see the former Dominick’s space filled in the near future, but “the intent of the owner for that plaza’s future is not yet clear.”

Scattered throughout the Village are many other recent victories for the community.

The former Black Cow restaurant, located at Busse and Golf roads, re-opened as Draft Picks last spring and its sport bar facilities are drawing big crowds.

The Ye Olde Town Inn building in the downtown area is under contract to a new owner who will open “Tokens and Tankards,” a “gastrocade” combining food, drink and arcade games, this fall. The neighboring Blues Bar property is also expected to re-open under new ownership by the holidays.

Now that the economy has improved, Cooney hopes to see some interest in Village-owned property to the west of Ye Olde Town Inn and also in the vacant triangular-shaped property across Busse Avenue. Development of that parcel would be complicated by its shape and by the fact that multiple owners are involved, Cooney admitted.

The former Jake’s Pizza on Northwest Highway is undergoing a massive renovation. The 1960s-era structure is being gutted and will soon open as Trezeros Kitchen + Tap. It is owned by Pasquale Ergastolo, a well-known local restaurateur.

Just down the road from that, on the old Tri-State Electronics property, an 11,000-square-foot retail property is expected to open by the summer of 2016. It will feature smaller retailers, as well as a Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-through.

The property along Route 83 which once held the historic and iconic Tudor-style Busse Building before it burned in early 2014 has been purchased by Norwood Builders. While no plans have yet been submitted, Cooney said he expects them to request permission to build two buildings featuring retail and restaurant space. Parking considerations will probably prevent them from building residential properties above, Cooney said.

Two Mattress Firm stores are soon coming to the Rand Road corridor. The triangular island at the intersection of Rand, Central and Mount Prospect roads will become the home to one of the stores while the former Shell gas station at Rand and Kensington roads near Randhurst Village will boast the other.

Up the road, McDonald’s will be moving across the street into the former Baker’s Square site early in 2016 and the site of the existing McDonald’s is already under contract to a local developer who is hoping to attract two restaurants to the site.

As for the former LA Fitness facility next to Office Max and Fresh Thyme Farmer’s Market, media rumors indicate that it will probably be leased by Crunch Fitness, a New York City-based venture which is known for unique offerings like Hip-Hop Aerobics, Co-Ed Action Wrestling and Cyked Yoga Cycling.

Further southeast on Rand Road, Menard’s is in the midst of the third phase of its four-phase expansion and rehabilitation. Construction on the road itself, complete with installation of new sewer pipes, is complete so the Village is now conducting a traffic study of the community’s Rand Road corridor.

The Village welcomed five new tenants into Kensington Business Center over the past year and in a continuing effort to market the Center, it has spruced up the area with upgraded walking, jogging and biking trails and has seen to the removal of over 300 dead trees, many of which were located on private property.

“We offered our tree contractor pricing to the property owners and many of them took advantage of the opportunity to remove trees killed by the Emerald Ash borer and other issues,” Cooney explained.

He is also enthusiastic about increased opportunities for industrial and office investment in the area around the expanded I-90 interchange at Elmhurst Road. Cooney said that easier access to communities to the west, via the tollway, will make properties in the area much more viable than they were before construction on the enhanced interchange was announced.

Housing in the Village has also gotten a boost.

The Mount Prospect Horizon senior housing facility opened near the intersection of Wolf and Kensington roads this spring. It is fully occupied and has a long waiting list, indicating a high demand for this type of facility in Mount Prospect. Developing similar facilities elsewhere in the community remains a priority for Cooney and the Community Development staff.

In addition, David Wheatley Homes has submitted a plan to build 14 row houses on an acre of vacant property on Elmhurst Avenue, immediately north of the Post Office and south of St. Paul Lutheran Cemetery.

The Village is also in discussions with Parenti and Raffaelli about their industrial property along Prospect Avenue. They are considering relocating because of $1 million in improvements that need to be made to their property. If they choose to relocate, the Village’s master plan calls for that property to be zoned for a mid-rise residential building, Cooney said.

Finally, in response to the increasingly strong rental housing market, over 1,000 of the Village’s 5,000 apartments units have been recently purchased by investment groups. The new owners have pledged $14 million in upgrades over the next four years.

“This is a positive trend for the Village because these units, most of which were built on the south end of town during the 1960s and 1970s, needed rehabbing and upgrades. The new owners were interested in making the investment because, by today’s standards, these units are very large and should command a good rental price,” Cooney explained.

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