Final Piece Still in Limbo

Article excerpt

Byline: Sheila Ahern

In February 2009, Mount Prospect Mayor Irvana Wilks stood by John Heimbaugh and said, "He's still our developer."

Today she only says, "He still owns the property."

Officials have approved two development plans in the past four years, but what will eventually be built in the area known locally as the "small triangle" in downtown Mount Prospect is unknown.

Wilks is the first to admit that.

"For us to move forward would be irresponsible," she said. "I would not be doing my job as mayor. That area still has the possibility to be rebuilt, but the economy has to totally reset itself first. That will probably take years."

Heimbaugh owns 15 W. Busse Ave., 19 W. Busse Ave., 22 W. Busse Ave. and 108 S. Main St. He did not return phone calls for this story.

Heimbaugh gained control of the properties when Mount Prospect dentist Errol Oztekin sold all his holdings in the triangle, except for the Blues Bar. In 2006, Oztekin unveiled plans to develop the triangle into a dining and entertainment hub, but he completed only the Blues Bar before opting out of the project.

The village tore down two buildings it acquired from other triangle property owners and pursued an eminent domain suit to acquire the Ye Olde Town Inn property at the same time.

But a few weeks ago, the village abandoned the eminent domain suit and openly acknowledged the corner

won't develop as soon as they had hoped.

Because the Ye Olde Town Inn building at 18 W. Busse Ave. is in the village's tax increment financing district, the village would have to pay property owner Tod Curtis what the site was worth in 2007, when it started eminent domain proceedings against him, Village Manager Mike Janonis said.

The recent economic downturn means Curtis's property is worth less today than it was in 2007, he said.

"Given the current economy and the likelihood of having to pay 2007 prices, it made sense to end this matter now," Janonis has said.

Curtis has said he is willing to sell his property if he gets what he thinks it is worth -- about $2 million. Janonis doesn't have a figure, but he says it's not worth $2 million.

Big plans

It was only two years ago that the board envisioned towering condos and busy shops on the corner and approved a $40 million town center project consisting of two seven-story buildings and one five-story building. It would have featured more than 100 condominiums and between 30,000 and 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

But that was then. Something like that just isn't possible today, Wilks said.

"Personally I loved that plan," she said. "But after it was approved in 2008, the housing market dropped like a stone. Pretty much all projects involving housing were red-lighted."

Had it been built, it would have been the crowning jewel on a 20-year development plan. Back in 1985, the area -- bordered by Central Street to the north, Northwest Highway to the south and Maple Street on the east -- was declared a tax increment financing district, and in 2008 the TIF was extended until 2022, said Brian Simmons, deputy director of the village's planning department. …