|By Sally Ho, Chicago
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 04, 2012--High-end restaurants, live music and a boutique hotel are all part of a proposed entertainment district to make Schaumburg's convention center more competitive, local officials said.
If approved, the amenities would be within walking distance of the Renaissance Schaumburg Hotel & Convention Center, 1551 N. Thoreau Drive, and spread across 20 or 30 acres north of Interstate Highway 90, south of Algonquin Road, west of Thoreau and east of Meacham Road, according to Matt Frank, the village's economic development manager.
"Things to do and see, close by, is the trend," said Dave Parulo, president of the Woodfield Chicago Northwest Convention Bureau.
Opened in 2006, the $240 million convention center is owned by the village and managed by hotel giant Marriott. Village Manager Ken Fritz said the village has been able to pay the $12 million annual debt service with revenue generated by the convention center and other funds such as the village's amusement tax.
Use of the center dipped during the recession, but it has rebounded, Fritz said. The latest monthly figures show a daily average occupancy rate of 70.8 percent in September, he said.
Parulo said the entertainment district will make the convention center more competitive and desirable. Village officials pointed to Rosemont as an example.
"(The convention center) has much more potential in the future, but these types of developments around there only make Schaumburg more attractive," Parulo said.
An upscale Italian restaurant or an eatery headed by a celebrity chef, for example, would fit in with two existing steakhouses nearby. A convenience store and a 150- to 200-room boutique hotel would accommodate more visitors, Frank said. Green space and a link to trails in the area would offer more recreation.
"After a full day of meetings and sessions, you need to go out for a walk and a drink -- we can provide that," Frank said.
The first restaurant could be built within a year or two, but the entertainment district itself could take about 10 years because it is part of a larger effort.
It hinges on a tax increment financing district in the area, running from Roselle Road from the west to Schaumburg's border to the east, and between Algonquin Road and I-90.
The heftiest piece calls for an I-90 off-ramp at Meacham. New housing developments also could replace some underperforming office buildings in the area.
The plan is similar to one the village created in 2008, and dissolved in 2011 because the taxing district was not expected to generate enough money. This time, Frank said, the taxing district, which sets aside funds for improvements, will cover a larger area that will include the Motorola Solutions campus.
The village will unveil the concept at a committee meeting in November and could vote on the plan next year.
(c)2012 the Chicago Tribune
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