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Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois

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Author Topic: Old Chicago - Bolingbrook, Illinois  (Read 12162 times)
Desolate Angel
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Posts: 5618

« Reply #45 on: November 22, 2010, 12:39:16 am »


Charles Woods quietly lets his option expire by not paying the $100,000 monthly rent to hold the building.

Reports of deteriorating roof and structural damage surface, particularly if IC decides not to heat the building over the winter, a move opposed by village hall.


Village demolition rules and regs are hauled out and new sections added that would make demolition cost-prohibitive. "Maybe this will make them think twice before demolishing Old Chicago, says Mayor Ed Rosenthal.


The Year of 1983


Demolition bids sit on the desks of IC officials, but a prospective buyer gives the building a stay of execution.


The fire protection system is turned off. A ticket is issued to IC by the fire department for code violation. The sprinkler system is not turned back on and is reportedly being dismantled.


A growing tide of sentiment rises to raze Old Chicago.

For the first time, village trustees show little interest in saving the building, but officials find themselves in a bind.

On the other hand, putting the building in dry dock by turning off the fire sprinkler system violates village codes. Resistance to dry-docking by the village may encourage demolition by IC.

Trustees Roger Claar and Jim Meyer say "Who cares?"

Mayor Ed Rosenthal says, "Why give anything up? It doesn’t cost the village anything to try to keep selling the building."


Two men are arrested breaking into Old Chicago. Police acknowledge a growing and persistent problem with vandals at the boarded up amusement park.


The continual problem with vandals leads to a proposal by IC to put barbed wire fencing around the property. It’s refused by the village’s ZBA, which doesn’t want the place to look like "Stateville North".


The Year of 1984


There’s no heat, except between IC, which wants to tear down the building, and the village, which is trying to delay demolition with the hopes of finding a buyer.

Literally dozens, if not hundreds, of speculators have toured the boarded up building over its closed years, but the village is gun-shy of announcing buyers in the wake of so many earlier disappointments.


A Missouri gentleman and land speculator specializing in "distressed properties", CL Carter, puts some money down, signs a purchase agreement with IC Industries and is introduced around the town with optimism. The undisclosed purchase price is estimated at close to $3 million, not much higher than the original price of the land alone. Carr does not say what he’ll do with the building, except to promise that it will be glittery – perhaps an entertainment capitol.


A shocked Bolingbrook learns that option-holder CL Carr is convicted of bank fraud in Arkansas, stemming from "sham loans" to get money in the manes of friends when Carr was not credit worthy.

No one in Bolingbrook knew about Carr’s legal problems and pending conviction on charges of bank fraud.

Other than "no comment", sources close to the Missouri land speculator say that Carr’s conviction will not stop the purchase of Old Chicago.


Despite a conviction for bank fraud, Carr is moving quickly to convert Old Chicago into useful property. Local developer Bill Palmer is his agent.

It seems that Carr’s plan is to demolish the building and subdivide the land. One car dealer is said to be interested in buying a piece of the land.


The Year of 1985


Car dealer Joe Levy buys a corner of Old Chicago property, thus sealing the prospect that the building will be leveled so the land can be sold for other things.

The property is officially labeled "blighted" by village ordinance. The land is worth more than the building, say officials.

The village acts as middle man in the sale, putting up some $300,000 so Levy can afford the property. Levy will repay the village its investment through credits for the sales taxes Levy’s auto dealership brings the village.

IC industries still owns the rest of the property, but CL Carr maintains that he’s still going to take it off the hands of the conglomerates.


The dome may not be doomed after all, says Bill Palmer. For six months every would-be buyer has talked of turning the building into an entertainment/assembly facility. "An indoor Poplar Creek" is one suggestion.

But no one has put up any money. CL Carr technically still holds an option on the building, but is not actively marketing the property.


The steady stream of prospective buyers no includes Elliott Glassner, owner of Keystone and Stroud realty companies.

The LDC says it won’t accept any buyer without a specific plan to turn the building into a convention center site that would attract hotels and related facilities. Glassner speaks of a warehouse operation and disappears.


Village and IC agree to demolish the dome. CL Carr has until July 31, 1985 to come up with the purchase price or the demolition orders are signed.

The site is to be cleared and ready to sell off in pieces.


The final attempt to sell Old Chicago fizzles. No option is picked up. While the sands run out, Old Chicago’s weathered carcass is being stripped of whatever portable values remain.

Mayor Bob Bailey salvages used Christmas tree decorations, the flume ride fountain and passels of souvenirs and equipment still left under the dome.

The lions escape the mayor, and end up at Bolingbrook Auto Center, still on property once part of Old Chicago.


Demolition is pending, but county board chairman John Annerino makes one more bid to save the building. He wants to sell it to the People’s Republic of China for an international trade center.

Annerino is taking former LDC president frank Rousseau with him to China to seal the deal.


Politicians intervene long enough to give John Annerino time to go to China and sell the property for a trade center, much to Mayor Bob Bailey’s dismay.

Annerino does not return with a signed contract and cash, but he claims to have a letter of intent from the Chinese to buy the building.


The Year 1986


John Annerino hopes to bring the 1992 World’s Fair to Will County and suggests Old Chicago as a possible site, while still contending that the People’s Republic of China also wants to buy it.

A week later, the village signs the actual demolition order.


Village hosts a "media event" to persuade the world that demolition of Old Chicago is a fresh start.

A model depicting hypothetical development of property with a variety of uses is shown by the LDC, but there are no "hot prospects".

John Annerino nearly steals the thunder from the village by showing his letter of intent from the Chinese to the television cameras.

To convince Annerino that no one is willing to listen to his suggestions, an exterior wall is knocked down on the building, denying its use for anything, once and for all.


Piles of rubble grow along Rt. 53 just south of I-55 as Old Chicago’s walls tumble.


The dome quietly sinks into the sunset with absolutely no fanfare.

By the end of the month, not a trace of the former amusement park remains but memories.
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