Bell Works' arrival, Sears' survival top busy year in Hoffman Estates
Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod recapped an especially eventful 12 months in the village, including the planned repurposing of the former AT&T campus and the narrow survival of Sears Holdings, during his annual Community Update Breakfast on Wednesday.
The village is pleased with what for now appears to be a positive outcome of Sears' struggles, and it in fact expects to see some additional revenue from the property as former CEO Eddie Lampert's investment company becomes owner of the retailer and its campus, McLeod said.
Even as Hoffman Estates continues to keep a wary eye on that fluid situation, it's also enthusiastically anticipating the transformation of the former AT&T buildings into a self-contained "metroburb" of businesses and multifamily residences called Bell Works.
The redevelopment plan is modeled after its successful namesake in Holmdel, New Jersey. Officials hope construction begins later in 2019, and the build-out would take several years, McLeod said.
He hopes the redevelopment will spur some movement on the long-delayed Meijer on Barrington Road nearby -- for the company to either build a store or sell the site.
That area of the village is expecting further growth in its collection of high-tech manufacturing firms, as Elgin-based Bystronic Inc. builds its new headquarters on an 11-acre site along the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, just west of the former AT&T campus and east of the Claire's Stores Inc. office complex and distribution center.
The new Bergman Pointe residential subdivision at the northwest corner of Algonquin and Ela roads is nearing completion and adding to the diversity of the village's housing stock, McLeod said. Just about the only disappointment is the continued delay in plans to refurbish the historic Bergman family farmhouse at the corner, a task that likely becomes more difficult with each winter the aging structure endures.
The Sears Centre Arena continues to be an asset to the village and hosted 80 events in 2018, including Windy City Bulls games, monster truck shows, concerts and community festivals, McLeod said.
Arena General Manager Ben Gibbs said one of the highlights of the year was the "All In" professional wrestling event Sept. 1, which sold out its 10,000 seats in 17 minutes.
Concerned that might cause promoters to seek a larger venue this year, the Sears Centre installed an outdoor metal plaque commemorating the event that so impressed the organizers that they made a special visit to show it on their weekly TV show.
Sears Centre management also is taking over the programming of the seasonal beer garden on the Village Green just outside and will be increasing its food, beverage and entertainment options, including having just bought a gelatin-shot maker.
"We know it has a ton of potential," Gibbs said of the beer garden.
There will be a new effort to create a fan base for the Village Green by cross-promoting the different events held there that are currently known only by specific audiences. One example is the beer fest Saturday, July 6, that will follow a pop-up water park for kids earlier in the day.
McLeod said the village is continuing to look for further growth of its entertainment venues, especially near the Sears Centre.
An audience member asked about the need for the new Holiday Inn Express being built next to Cabela's. McLeod said the hotel chain recognized a market demand.
The Ace Hardware at Golf and Higgins roads that was sought for so many years is not only meeting expectations but exceeding them, McLeod told the members of the Hoffman Estates Chamber of Commerce & Industry, which organized the event.