Advice to commercial property owners on pending Arlington Park sale: Don’t sell cheap
Having the Chicago Bears for neighbors could be exciting, says Peter Kics, longtime Arlington Heights dentist whose Westgate Dental Care stands along Euclid Avenue in the shadow of Arlington International Racecourse.
Having the bears in your back yard could also be profitable. If a stadium replaces the racetrack, Kics’ parking lot could be a parking spot for fans on match days. Better still, the sale of the 326 hectare racetrack could spark a boost in development.
Churchill Downs Inc. announced the sale of the 94 year old line in February.
The bears are part of several groups vying to buy the facility. The former railway president Roy Arnold, who wants to keep horse racing there, is also one of the interested parties. Glenstar Properties, based in Chicago, and UrbanStreet Group LLC, based in Schaumburg, have also submitted bids.
Kics said he intends to stick with the dream dental office he built 3½ years ago even if new owners of Arlington Park offer to buy him out. For commercial property owners tempted to take up such an offer, commercial real estate agent Mike Velasco has this advice: Don’t sell cheap.
“Aside from the taxpayers’ money, (the upcoming sale) is great news for the village, commercial owners and their tenants,” Velasco said, adding that increased traffic and visibility could make commercial space more valuable, allowing landlords to rent increase.
Additionally, if the Bears bought the land, they could choose to buy surrounding land, as the Ricketts family did when they bought the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field, said Velasco of Coldwell Banker Realty The Groves in Long Grove.
Commercial property owners are “in a good position,” he said. “There’s no reason to sell cheap,” said Velasco. “You want to see what the plan for the development of the site is. At this point you can see what (the new owner) is originally planned and what it will look like later.”
Hold on, he advises, and see what happens.
Farmers Insurance agent Kenneth C. More doesn’t think new owners will want to buy the property he has owned for nearly 40 years along the Northwest Highway and Warren Avenue (near Metro’s Arlington Park commuter station).
“I don’t know how desirable this small piece of land would be,” says More about the area of an architecturally striking, two-story office building, the back wall of which marks the property line. Even so, the possibility of the bears moving in across the street is exciting to him.
“That would give the region a huge boost,” he said.
Kics said the circuit is part of the community and “we’ve enjoyed our time there for many years.”
“Now that the decision (to sell) has been made, this is a win-win situation not just for Arlington Heights but for all of the suburbs to the northwest,” he said. “Whatever the result, we are excited to see what it will bring.”
Ronela Fusha, whose Fuschay Beauty Bar is located in the Arlington Park Plaza shopping mall at the intersection of Wilke Road and Northwest Highway, east of the circuit site, is less than enthusiastic about the bears’ potential purchase of the circuit. Fusha, who moved to this location from downtown Arlington Heights six years ago, says she may not renew her lease depending on development proposals.
“We have to trust (village officials),” she said. “You will do the right thing.”
When the bears move, restaurants, entertainment venues and hotels will likely benefit the most, predicts Randy Olczyk, president and director of Chicago Commercial Real Estate, based in the Palatinate. Olczyk doesn’t think the team would buy surrounding land because the site itself is so large. But he agrees that an NFL team in the neighborhood will benefit commercial owners.
“In general, it will have a positive impact on the surrounding commercial properties,” he said. “The more traffic you have, the more commercial tenants can move in, the higher the landlords can charge the rent.”
The circuit’s sale “is probably one of the most exciting offers I’ve heard in a long time,” said Olczyk, adding that cities along the Metra line would likely benefit.
“It opens many additional doors to trade along the railway line,” he said.
Charles Witherington-Perkins, director of planning and community development for Arlington Heights, said any development will complement the community, including downtown, which is just two miles east.
Arlington Park “is prime property and is a great opportunity for dynamic redevelopment,” said Witherington-Perkins.