Attracting new businesses and supporting the success of current businesses is vital to every community because business and industry not only provides jobs to area residents, but also pays the taxes that subsidize the roads, schools, parks, libraries, and other public resources that every community relies on. The leaders of both the Village of Wheeling and the City of Prospect Heights are diligent in their pursuit of businesses that can improve the quality of life in their communities.
WHEELING Good things come to those who wait, as the saying goes. Wheeling expects to break ground on its new downtown, Wheeling Town Center, in September. Located on the nearly 10-acre former Wickes Furniture property next to the Wheeling Metra station at Dundee Road and Northgate Parkway, Wheeling Town Center will be a $100 million transit-oriented master-planned mixed-use development featuring 100,000 square feet of retail, restaurant and service space, as well as a village greenway and nearly 300 mid-rise apartments with an internal parking deck. The complex is directly adjacent to the 85-acre Heritage Park, the municipal campus and the train station. Thanks to the strong seasonal audience at neighboring Heritage Park, where families gather for events, festivals and baseball and soccer games, the site is expected to attract a wide variety of restaurants, retailers and entertainment venues to the new center, according to John Melaniphy, director of economic development for the Village of Wheeling. However, “A development of this size and scope is fraught with challenges, he noted. “The village worked with all the various stakeholders on infrastructure improvements, utility easements, pipeline relocation, traffic signalization, storm water management, cross access agreements, landscaping and parking.” Now they are able to move forward. In the meantime, another aspect of Wheeling’s Downtown Master Plan got underway. The construction of Reva Development’s Northgate Crossings, the 288-unit master planned apartment development on the north side of Dundee Road (offering beautiful apartment units with garages and a full complement of amenities), is proceeding. Northgate Crossings, which offers a community clubhouse, swimming pool, exercise room, walking trails and other amenities, has experienced strong leasing thanks to its proximity to the Wheeling Metra Station, the planned Wheeling Town Center, local employers, Heritage Park and Wheeling’s famous Restaurant Row. The Wheeling Town Center development will add another 300 luxury apartment units directly adjacent to the station. Melaniphy expects the Wheeling Town Center to be a catalyst for additional development and redevelopment along the Dundee Road commercial corridor. “We continue to market the former Kmart property at Dundee and Elmhurst Road,” he said. “Based on an examination of our retail sales by category, we are actively seeking a mixed-use development, big-box home
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improvement store or general merchandise store for that location.” In 2015 the Village of Wheeling issued building permits for $70 million worth of construction projects, a whopping $29 million increase over 2014. It also invested $4.8 million in capital improvements to Wheeling’s infrastructure, including nearly $1 million in TIF-related improvements. For instance, the village recently installed all new streetlights on Dundee Road, which is a dramatic improvement. The village plans an additional $7.6 million in infrastructure improvements in 2016, Melaniphy noted. New retail businesses that came to Wheeling during 2015 include Stella’s Café, The Purple Sprout Café, ATI Physical Therapy, Marvy Nails & Spa, Fabulous Hair Salon and Dunkin Donuts. There is also a new senior living facility, The Whitley, under construction, as well as a living facility called Philhaven for those with mental health disabilities. “We have accelerated our marketing efforts to recruit new restaurants to the former Le Francais restaurant site and the village-owned parcel just north of Tuscany,” Melaniphy said. The village’s experiment with becoming a member of Chicago’s North Shore Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CNSCVB) has definitely borne fruit, Melaniphy said. Occupancy at the Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel and Convention Center reached an all-time high in 2015, in part due to the convention bureau’s efforts to promote convention, corporate meeting and trade show bookings in Wheeling. Melaniphy said that the village has also witnessed enhanced marketing efforts of the village’s restaurants, entertainment venues and recreational amenities since the CNSCVB’s full-time staff has been marketing Wheeling facilities to meeting planners. For instance, restaurant sales increased from $90 million in 2014 to over $96 million in 2015 and village leaders credit their significant investment in CNSCVB membership for much of that improvement. Wheeling is also actively seeking additional industrial and warehouse development to help bolster manufacturing opportunities and create jobs. Village staff, for instance, recently sought the assistance of U.S. Rep. Bob Dold, Gov. Bruce Rauner and others to recruit Richelieu Foods to Wheeling. In the end, the concerted effort of Dold, Rauner, Department
2016 Community Guide & Business Directory
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