With redevelopment stalled, Rosemont may condemn building that housed Shoeless Joe's bar
With an eye on redevelopment of a prominent corner at the edge of O'Hare International Airport, Rosemont officials are weighing condemnation proceedings on property that until recently was the longtime home of Shoeless Joe's sports bar.
After three decades on the northwest corner of Mannheim and Higgins roads in Rosemont, the popular bar relocated to nearby Schiller Park in 2019, after the landlord refused to extend its lease. That was preceded by closure of the neighboring Pine Grove diner in the same building, and Enigma The Lounge basement nightclub.
With most of the site sitting vacant for years and redevelopment prospects stalled, Rosemont's village board has authorized a condemnation suit for the building at 10290 W. Higgins Road. The legal action wouldn't include the Best Western at O'Hare motel, which is connected via a hallway.
Last month, one developer forwarded a proposal for a gas station at the corner, but Mayor Brad Stephens said any hopes of filling the vacancies have fallen through over the years because of a series of parking agreements. They allow motel guests to park in Pine Grove's parking spaces, which in recent weeks also were filled with cars of O'Hare travelers, Stephens said.
The aim of village officials is to separate the parking easements so that the hotel and former diner/bar building are on their own. Officials are now getting the land appraised before making a formal offer to the property owner.
But if a deal doesn't work out, Stephens said, "we'll be prepared to condemn it all out."
The building owner didn't respond to a request for comment.
Village officials have been eyeing acquisition of the property since at least 2014, when they went toe-to-toe in an online foreclosure auction with a hotel group that had the winning bid at $8 million. Village officials threw in the towel at $7 million.
The 2014 auction was for the entire three-story, 75,000-square-foot building that included the motel, but property ownership has changed hands in the ensuing years. And while ownership of the motel and restaurant are now different, the parking agreements remain.
If the village acquires the shuttered restaurant building, Stephens said the plan would be to demolish it, clearing the site for future development.