In Arlington Heights, homes may one day rise where horses now run.
Churchill Downs wants to sell its 326-acre Arlington Park thoroughbred race track in Arlington Heights, a sprawling property that has massive residential and commercial redevelopment opportunities.
The company has hired CBRE to market the nearly century-old track, according to Crain’s. The gears appeared to have been set in motion in September 2019, when Churchill Downs announced it would not seek a casino license for Arlington Park, something it had previously said the location needed to survive.
The company’s portfolio includes race tracks — the most famous is Churchill Downs, which hosts the Kentucky Derby — along with casinos and online betting. It purchased Arlington Park in a $72 million stock deal in 2000. No price was given for a potential sale.
At the time of its decision not to seek a casino license, Churchill Downs said that Arlington Park faced a 20 percent tax hike compared to what gambling competitors pay. And even before the pandemic, the historic track saw declining revenue and rising costs.
The potential redevelopment of such a large property comes at a time of high demand in the suburban housing market. January saw homes in 30 suburbs sell in half the amount of time it took for homes that sold in the first month of 2020. Home inventory is also a record low.
The company said it would still hold its upcoming racing season from April through the end of September, and that it didn’t expect a sale before then.
Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said the firm expects “to see robust interest in the site” and that it looked forward “to working with potential buyers, in collaboration with the village of Arlington Heights, to transition this storied location to its next phase,” Crain’s reported.
[Crain’s] — Alexi Friedman