By Laura Katauskas | Bugle Staff
Crime is down, retail sales are up and business continues to expand.
That was the message Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar expressed during his annual state of the village address, held Jan. 14 at the Bolingbrook Golf Club. The Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored the event. Giving a recap of the past year and the state of affairs for the village, Claar described a town that continues its success based on 50 years of momentum. Bolingbrook celebrated its 50th anniversary this past year with a host of activities to recognize its short but rich history.
Claar kicked off his speech by noting that crime fell 2 percent in 2015 – the lowest it has been in 20 years – showing a steady decrease over the past decade.
One of the biggest announcements included the news that Tony’s Finer Foods will be occupying the Food For Less storefront that has remained vacant for several years. Tony Ingraffia and Domenico Gambino purchased the Pheasant Hill Shopping Center and will work to fill the other storefronts, as well. They own 13 other stores in the Chicago area, including its Plainfield location on Route 59.
Claar also pointed toward the economic success of The Promenade, which he called a huge economic engine for the village. Retail sales at the outdoor mall are up by 4 percent. The Promenade is 94 percent occupied – 6 percent higher than the national average.
Starwood, owner of the Promenade, plans to invest $2 million in 2016 for sidewalk canopies, lighting and a new kid’s play area, the mayor added.
Apartment housing improved last year, as well. The Innsbruck Apartments were completely renovated and renamed the Promenade Apartments. In addition, construction on the 288-unit Tapestry Promenade Apartments is underway. Located just off of Janes Avenue, the complex will offer high-end amenities.
However, Claar noted that the village is running out of vacant land, with the only two active subdivisions left – Bella Vista and Americana Estates. The village is negotiation with Northern Builders to annex approximately 190 acres of single-family residential property immediately east of the golf course.
Though the Bolingbrook International Clow Airport was closed a good portion of 2015, it has reopened with a new 75-foot-wide runway that includes lights and wider aprons. The Bolingbrook mayor said the upgrades made the airport safer and applauded the fact that they were completed using federal funds.
One of the biggest problems facing the village is the Emerald Ash Borer, according to Claar. To date, the village has removed 8,000 trees, replanted more than 3,300 trees and estimated that an additional 3,000 will be cut this year. He said the project will eventually cost the village millions of dollars but added that it is an inevitable dilemma the village continues to wrestle with.
The village also continues to face problems with American Lake Water and its sister company Illinois American Water. Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Woodridge, Lemont and Homer Glen filed a condemnation suit against Illinois American Water, which is still ongoing.
The Bolingbrook Golf Club, owned by the village, had a successful year, averaging 140 weddings a year; with two-thirds of its revenue coming from food and beverage sales. The club attracts a variety of events, hosting a number of charity functions including ones for the Muscular Dystrophy, March of Dimes, Bo Jackson’s Give Me a Chance Foundation and more celebrity attended events. Tony Ommen of the Chicago Blackhawks brought back the Stanley Cup again, raising nearly $25,000 for area charities. The golf course itself was named by the Golf Range Association of America as one of the top 50 public ranges in the country.
The state budget crisis continues to have its fallout with a stall in transportation projects, one being the reconstruction of the Interstate 55 and Weber Road Bridge. The I-55 and Route 126 Interchange continues to be discussed but also is delayed by the Illinois Department of Transportation. However, the 95th Street Bridge was opened connecting Boughton Road to 95th Street. In addition, plans are being drawn to design a roundabout for the intersection just immediately east of the golf course at the intersection of Rodeo and Kings Road.
The village saw several new openings including O’Reilly’s Auto Parts Store, formerly the empty Wendy’s building; Brown’s Chicken moved to the east side and a new Checker’s now occupies the building; a new tenant is expected for the former site of La Hacienda which has been empty for years. New businesses include the Tamari Japanese Steakhouse, Xfinity/Comcast, Embroidme, Sterling Knight Jewerly and Pawn Shop; Firehouse Subs, IHOP, Sophia’s House of Pancakes, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Mia, Wingstop, Healthsource Chiropractic, Bay State Milling and the Vitamin Shoppe.
Coming soon is the The Range at 355, a gun range on the south side of Bolingbrook across from Costco. The complete training facility will teach patrons how to properly use weapons.
The industrial sector saw new and current businesses take on great expansion such as that of Swap.com, one of the largest online consignment stores which will be adding 400 employees and moving into a building with 361,000 square feet of space; Bolingbrook’s largest employer Weather Tech added a seventh building; ULTA will be expanding by 66 percent; and other businesses followed suit with expansion including West Liberty Foods, ATI, Power Equipment Direct, Computer Projects of Illinois, Catching Fluid Power, PODS, Opus, Molto Properties and Worldwide Dispensers.
The hotel sector is growing with the addition of the Hilton Garden Inn, and the spring construction of the Residence Inn by Marriott.
As expansion and growth continue in Bolingbrook, so does Claar’s plan to lead, quipping that he will be running once again to remain in office.