Development at Former Fairgrounds at a Standstill

The 100+ acres in the center of Grayslake remain vacant four years after the fairgrounds relocate.

The plans are big. The potential is great. The productivity is minimal.

Four years after the Lake County Fair Association sold its 100 acres of land at Route 45 and Highway 120 to move its fairgrounds to Peterson Road, the land remains unoccupied with no current plans to move forward. In fact, it is currently for sale by Divesified Development Realty.

DDR purchased the land with plans to build a shopping center similar to or larger than the Deer Park Town Center at Rand and Long Grove Roads in Deer Park. A plan was approved in 2007 by the Village of Grayslake that included one or two big box stores, some medium-sized businesses and other smaller retailers. The idea would be a pedestrian-oriented open-air shopping center.

According to Kirk Smith, zoning officer for the Village of Grayslake, the initial agreement was for two years, with an additional year as an extension. That has since lapsed.

"It was something that was approved back then and we felt it was quality development at that time," Smith said. "Something like that would work, but they'll have to bring it back for approval again."

"It's kind of a sign of the economy," said Grayslake Trustee Shawn Vogel about why DDR hasn't moved forward on the plans. "We'd like to see it developed or some variation of the initial plan but I'm also glad I don't see something that's partially built and just sitting there."

Grayslake Mayor Rhett Taylor said nothing in the agreement with DDR states that they have to actually execute the plans that were approved. He also said the Village is working with the Lake County Board at revising the transportation agreement for the grounds to potentially allow parcels of the land to be developed individually.

"Lifting that transportation agreement as far as the entrances to the land will help make it more economical for potential developers," Taylor said. "It would idealy be less for them to pay upfront on what could have been a huge project."

Meantime the Village can not enforce any movement on the property except to ensure it is well kept.

"They are a private landowner, it just happens to be a big piece of land in the middle of town," Vogel said. "We can't do anything except stay on them about keeping it mowed."

When Patch contacted DDR regarding the plans for this site, the company said they have no comment to offer.

DDR owns and manages 500 retail properties in the United States, Puerto Rico and Brazil including shopping centers in McHenry, Orland Park, Schaumburg, Roscoe and Deer Park, among others.

Chris Nguyen, property manager for the Deer Park Town Center, was not aware of any development by DDR at the former fairgrounds location. He did say, however, that Deer Park would be a good model to base the shopping center off of. "We're fairly well occupied and well attended," he said. "We have great anchors like the Apple store and Crate and Barrel."

Brad Stickels July 19, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Diane I agree with you . I grew up in Grayslake and I'm just disgusted with the so called improvements like the disaster at the end of center and lake streets . I dont live there anymore because of the high tax's and congestion. I do come to town several times a year and stay up to date with what going on in town... Brad
Gene July 20, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Lake Forest Hospital is planing a stoplight at its main entrance. I thought there was a plan for a stoplight at Bobolink and Harris? This would make better sense.
Gene July 20, 2012 at 01:12 PM
I know this may not be the correct sight for this next statement but here goes, The is a new building being built next to Chase Bank, notice there are no signs for what it will be? Why not most businesses would advertise it. Well it's an autoparts store.
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