Rosemont officials called off a land deal for a developer's new parking lot when they found out the extra parking was for a new hotel -- not a restaurant.
They were initially willing to sell the vacant parcel at 1738 E. Higgins Road to the owner of the 1700 Higgins Centre office building on the other side of Willow Creek. Both properties are across the street from Rosemont within Des Plaines city limits.
But Rosemont officials backed out once they discovered the office owner, Mariner Higgins Centre LLC, intended to build a five-story, 57,000-square-foot hotel of 107 rooms on the east side of the office building instead of a 6,000-square-foot free-standing restaurant.
"Nobody told us they were considering a hotel," said Mayor Brad Stephens, who argued the current O'Hare hotel market is "oversaturated."
And he suggested the type of proposed hotel, a Home2 Suites Hotel by Hilton, would be a budget "let's-have-a-party-at-a-hotel" brand.
Village officials and the office building owner had the land west of the creek under contract, but in a rare unanimous "no" vote, trustees at last week's board meeting rejected a request to extend the closing date, scuttling the deal.
Plans called for an 88-space parking lot and stormwater detention on the Rosemont land, and a bridge over the creek that would connect to the office building and new hotel site. It would have cost $600,000 to buy the sliver of land near the creek and another $2.2 million to build the lot and bridge, plus $12.2 million for the hotel, according to a project budget submitted to Des Plaines officials.
Stephens said he'd be open to a new agreement with conditions, chief among them that the redevelopment only include a restaurant.
He learned of the hotel after Des Plaines aldermen voted Aug. 3 to endorse a Cook County Class 7b tax incentive for the new project, which would allow the property to be assessed at lower levels over the course of a dozen years. Aldermen had already expressed support for the incentive last August when only the restaurant was proposed.
Differences in views for what the hotel could mean for the area are stark.
Despite challenges in the current economic climate, Des Plaines officials struck an optimistic tone when they voted to support the tax incentive.
"This seems like an ideal location for a hotel -- close to the airport, across the street from Rosemont, close to the casino," Alderman Carla Brookman said. "This should reap far more benefits from a hotel, especially a quality product like the Hilton, than it would from another restaurant. Restaurants come and go, but a hotel near an airport is probably going to operate for decades."
Stephens, who also serves as a local state representative, pointed to the existing hotels and at least another four that are planned in the immediate area in both Des Plaines and Rosemont.
"How much can this area support, especially with the economy going on today," Stephens said.
Rosemont has owned the land near the creek since 1994, originally planning tennis courts there, but dropped the plan when officials couldn't get federal government approval for a pedestrian walkway across Higgins.