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."

marilyn July 18, 2012 at 11:24 AM
this is one of the more disappointing moves on the part of the village. They (we) seriously overpaid for the property in the first place, without having important details worked out. Alot ofpeople don't realize the huge waste of money, and that money is ours. Even if we had paid a reasonable price, it sitll would have been a waste.
marilyn July 18, 2012 at 11:25 AM
I noticed the article is leaving out details like the purchase price etc., from what I understand we are still paying for the property.
Nightcrawler July 18, 2012 at 11:52 AM
According to the article, DDR purchased and owns the property.
Softball Jim July 18, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Marilyn, Seriously what money was spent by the Village to purchase this piece of property? What money is being paid out? The Village of Grayslake does not own this property. The article says the only thing the Village can do is make sure the property is well kept. AKA mowing. So where is the expence to the tax payers?
Nightcrawler July 18, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Try to be kind, Jim.
Local July 18, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I'm fine with no mall, do we really need another mall anyway? It would have made the already bad traffic and congestion in this area unbearable.
Sandra Sims July 18, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Does anyone know what the status of the Cornerstone project is? Anything that would bring some tax revenue into the area and maybe absorb some ot the insane school taxes.,,,,
Diane July 18, 2012 at 05:38 PM
As a homeowner that backs up to the potential Mall I for one am relieved. I never supported a mall being built, its hard enough getting across 120 without a stop light or crosswalk with the hosptial, AND we now we have to deal with all the FED-EX ground trucks clogging and damaging our streets. I moved here 18 years ago from the city because it was so RURAL. If you want cIty-move to the city and leave our Mayberry ALONE! We dont need MORE TRAFFIC!
Nightcrawler July 18, 2012 at 09:00 PM
FYI, elementary school property tax revenue from fairgrounds development would go to D50 (Woodland), not D46 (Grayslake).
Lennie Jarratt July 18, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Sandra didn't even mention which school district. @Nightcrawler, I'm glad you recognized the D46 property taxes are high though. D50 Property taxes are also high as well.
Sandra Sims July 18, 2012 at 09:53 PM
FYI, revenue from Cornerstone would go to D127. And I guess no one knows what's going on with it.
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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