Ideas for Geneva Lakes still racing around

Site is slated for commercial, residential use

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Jan. 4, 2007, 11:38 a.m.)

It's been nine months since McHenry, Ill.-based developer NRB Land bought the Geneva Lakes Greyhound Track for almost $8 million and an adjoining piece of vacant property.

While little has changed at the 190-acre site on the south side of Highway 50 between Interstate 43 and North Shore Drive in Delavan, the possibilities for its future continue rolling in, said NRB Land Manager Andy Teegen.

"We're working with a couple of commercial guys, one guy out of Milwaukee and a couple out of Chicago. We haven't found the right mix yet," Teegen said. "We're finding ourselves in a holding pattern until we get the right mix in there."

The site has 90 acres set aside for commercial development and 100 acres tabbed for residential and mixed-use development.

NRB officials have had conversations with about 50 national retailers, both "big box" and "mid box" chains. No corporate names were disclosed.

"Because of the size of our property, I would be surprised if there was not one big box in the mix," as development plans come closer to fruition, Teegen said.

Rather than boarding up the 110,000-square-foot clubhouse and grandstand building, NRB Land is spending between $15,000 and $25,000 per month to maintain the facility for easier retrofitting, Teegen said. Two employees work at the site to keep the 16-year-old building healthy.

So far, there have been no takers for the unique building.

"We will give it some more time in pursuing another user for it," Teegen said. "We're still under 12 months owning the facility. We had a 12- to 18-month window to pursue another user. In April, we will be coming up on the one-year anniversary. We'd still like to give it another whole spring, summer and fall to find a use for this thing."

Many options to retrofit the building have been explored including a theater, hotel, convention center or sports entertainment complex.

"The entertainment idea has been explored," Teegen said. "It's something we are still considering an option. In Elkhorn they are (possibly) doing a sports facility and we're keeping an eye on what they're doing.

"The venue is in place (here). The parking is in place. Some of those assets are in place. This is something that might make sense right here."

The two-level, tiered grandstand building is designed for viewing events in front of an easterly looking glass window. For more than 15 years, visitors watched and wagered on greyhounds chasing a mechanical bone.

Whatever the possibilities are, retrofitting the building would need to make financial sense. It might cost $30 million to retrofit the clubhouse, but only cost $15 million to tear down and construct another building in its place, Teegen said.

Until now, the only change at the site was the razing of the greyhound kennels.

Further development will likely come in phases and take at least another year, Teegen said.



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