Chicago Bears’ proposed move to Arlington Heights could allow owners to take advantage of higher sale prices

If the Chicago Bears move to Arlington Heights, their future neighbors hope to profit from the move. Business owners and landlords believe a new football stadium on the site of the former Arlington International Racecourse would bring an influx of fans and greater demand for real estate.

John Steinken, who lives in Palatine within walking distance of the venue, is a Green Bay Packers fan, but in this case he supports the Bears. A unionized electrician, he and his sister live in the same house that his parents bought in 1954. They have a double court next door where they play horseshoes. It’s a property he hopes to sell for his retirement money if the team moves.

“I would support him here,” he said of the stadium.

An analysis of housing prices in Arlington Heights suggests the Bears may already be having an effect on the market. Median sale prices in the three postcodes closest to the village rose 14% through October this year after the team announced their preliminary deal to buy the now-closed racecourse, according to figures from the National Association of Realtors, while prices in the Chicago metro area only rose 5%.

Similarly, local Bowers Realty Group reports that median sales prices for single-family homes in neighboring Palatine have risen 7% to nearly $400,000 over the past year. Prices at Rolling Meadows, which also borders the track, have not appreciated as much, but have been selling faster recently.

The increase came despite rising interest rates and uncertainty over whether the team will move. The Bears have offered to build a new gated stadium as part of $5 billion of apartments, condominiums, bars, restaurants and parks.

Team officials appear intent on buying the 326-acre site for $197 million, but aren’t rushing. Bears president George McCaskey said this week that while ownership of the racetrack remains the team’s ‘single priority’, officials are still trying to determine if they can close the deal in the first quarter. of this year. Kevin Warren, President and CEO of New Bears added that it is essential that “we are methodical, that we are detailed and that we take the time to plan it correctly”.

Even if they buy it, as expected, team executives say they won’t go ahead with development without a government grant of infrastructure costs.

The Arlington Heights real estate market had also trended higher before, so it’s unclear to what extent the Bears might have influenced housing prices. Studies elsewhere, such as Washington, DC, have shown that sports stadiums are correlated with rising house prices, with the effect most concentrated on the ground. But at least two studies have also found that stadium subsidies lower housing values.

Arlington Heights Mayor Tom Hayes said he thinks the increased demand for housing in the village is more likely due to the traditional reasons: good schools and quality of life. Hayes also noted a recent trend of new high-rise rental buildings in the village.

Rental properties are thought to be more sensitive to rising prices than single-family homes. A study involving the Federal Reserve Bank found that rents rose an average of 8% per year in downtowns that had NFL teams between 1993 and 1999, more than elsewhere.

Housing became a big issue in Inglewood, California after the construction of Sofi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. Home prices rose 63% between 2014, when the project was set up, and 2018, PropertyShark reported. Demonstrators protested rent increases, displacement and homelessness, forcing the city to implement rent control.

In Arlington Heights, real estate agent Shay Hata said none of his clients had wanted to move specifically to be closer to the Bears, but investors were likely to buy nearby properties speculating on rising prices, and possibly to rent them via Airbnb or other. short term rentals.

A more common concern among buyers is traffic. Some shop in surrounding suburbs in hopes the Bears will move, but don’t want to be so close they’ll face crowds and madness, she said.

“Generally,” she said, “we’ve seen high demand in Arlington Heights, driven more by people wanting to get out of town and have more space to work from home. For me, it’s a lot more because of COVID than the Bears.

In the neighboring Palatine, Mayor Jim Schwantz is a former Bears player himself who remembers kicker Kevin Butler having to ask a Chicago Park District worker to unlock Soldier Field for practice. He welcomes the team which moves to the northwestern suburbs.

His main concern, he said, is traffic in residential neighborhoods and the blockage of Route 14 (Northwest Highway), which crosses the Palatine towards the park. Additionally, any property taxes withheld for the development could affect Palatine Community Consolidated School District 15.

With infrastructure costs possibly exceeding $1 billion, he said, “there are a lot of unanswered questions. There are many hurdles to overcome. »

Despite the uncertainties, the current owners can dream of a gain.

Ken More, a Farmers Insurance Group agent, owns an office building on a small lot across from Arlington Park. He hopes a move from the Bears will attract buyers for the property.

Just as new developments have sprung up near the White Sox, Cubs, United Center and Soldier Field stadiums, he hopes the same will happen near Arlington Park. Despite the Bears’ plan to build their own housing and commercial developments, More is optimistic.

“I don’t think it can do anything other than help me,” he said.

[email protected]

Comments are closed.