Commercial Development

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Commercial development in any community is largely determined by the times. That which was built 40 or 50 years ago is markedly different from the type, structure and scale of what is built today.

In today’s Arlington Heights, large-scale development under construction and on the drawing boards is almost exclusively rental residential units and sometimes associated small scale commercial units, noted James Tinaglia of Tinaglia Architects, Inc. and Mark Meskauskas, Senior Associate at Brian Properties, Inc., both of which are Arlington Heights-based.

“Arlington Heights currently has three new rental residential properties in the pipeline and over at the recently repurposed One Arlington, west of Arlington Park, they are looking to expand some retail offerings to further develop that campus,” Meskauskas said.

“Apartments are the most active segment today because we have an aging population that doesn’t want to worry about owning real estate anymore so they can travel more and we also have Millennials who are delaying home ownership as long as possible,” he added.

Tinaglia agreed. His firm is currently building the first apartment building built in Arlington Heights in many years – the seven-story Parkview Apartments at Dunton and Eastman streets. He also has another apartment project on the drawing board for elsewhere in Arlington Heights.

“The condominium and luxury homes markets have been over-built and besides, right now many people are more inclined to rent. So this led to the rebirth a few years ago of downtown area apartments,” Tinaglia said.

“Every good urban planner tries to design buildings that help downtowns survive and thrive and right now, that means apartments,” he added. “They bring in residents who can patronize downtown businesses and restaurants by simply walking.”

“Others need to park somewhere and that is Arlington Heights’ biggest struggle right now. So the village is currently doing a parking study. I would like to see a weekend valet program at key corners throughout the downtown so people don’t have to keep driving around, looking for a space. At the end of the evening they would then walk to a designated warming house and someone would bring them their car. This might need to be municipally sponsored or co-sponsored with the Chamber of Commerce,” Tinaglia said.

Unlike apartments, large office complexes are often becoming dinosaurs, Meskauskas noted. While Tinaglia can point to firms that are redesigning and refurbishing their offices, shrinking or expanding the space in the process, depending on the circumstances, Meskauskas said he mainly sees those who are shrinking their real estate footprint.

Instead, companies and young workers are opting for co-working spaces like the 25 North space in “One Arlington” and the WeWork and Regus spaces found in Chicago. Young workers usually prefer to work in spaces like this where they can “rent” a desk or a conference room for a finite amount of time. Likewise, companies prefer not to invest in lots of real estate, Meskauskas said.

“Consequently, the suburban Chicago office real estate market, and especially the northwest suburban market, is currently weak,” he added. “Some companies are choosing to update – to 2018 standards – old office buildings in the cities. But fewer are choosing to do that in the suburbs. Consequently, it makes sense for both employees and corporations that more and more employees are working remotely.”

When it comes to retail spaces, Meskauskas said that people today want to shop in a lifestyle community where they can access retail, service businesses like dry cleaners, restaurants and groceries in one location. That is why many big box stores are struggling.

“People in Arlington Heights and all over the country want to do everything in one space – when they aren’t shopping online, that is. So small, diverse retail areas seem to do best everywhere and Arlington Heights is doing a good job of cultivating those and making people want to live and shop here,” he added.

As for restaurants, many are opting for smaller spaces of 2,000 to 3,000 square feet, instead of the 5,000 to 6,000 square feet they wanted
a decade or two ago, Tinaglia said. “It is just easier to handle and has
less overhead.”