Sale of suburban park land owned by McDonald’s subject of referendum

OAK BROOK, Ill. -- Residents in west suburban Oak Brook will vote Tuesday on a referendum that would authorize the Oak Brook Park District to purchase 34-acres of land owned by McDonald’s.

The site is already under contract, but supporters of the referendum say it is far from a done deal.

The park district is requesting a $17.9 million bond sale to acquire the land known as the McDonald’s soccer fields.

The Atlanta-based homebuilder PulteGroup has a contract to buy the site with plans to develop a gated luxury townhome community.

McDonald’s has been working to sell property in Oak Brook since moving its headquarters to the West Loop.

“Just as we did with the former McDonald’s Plaza, it was important to us that we find a buyer that could deliver an exceptional vision for the community, and we are thrilled to have found a buyer that is bringing an exciting residential vision to the current and future residents of Oak Brook,” said Joe Endress, Vice President, Facilities and Systems of McDonald’s Corporation, in a statement earlier this week.

But some longtime residents have a different vision.

Anne Huber of the Supporters of Oak Brook Park District Referendum group is urging her neighbors to vote yes.
“When we heard they were going to put up townhomes here we thought, ‘Oh my gosh! What is going to happen to our little village?’’ Huber said. "We need to preserve the land. This is a gift to our community."

Officials with Butler School District 53 also voiced concerns.

“Any significant change in our population would cause us to make some very difficult changes such as cutting classes, services potentially even having trailers on site,” said Ahmad Sulaiman, Butler District 53 Board of Education Secretary.

“Since 2016, we’ve been in constant communication with them and McDonald’s is very aware that this referendum is on the ballot,” Laure Kosey, executive director of the Oak Brook Park District said.

If the referendum is approved, the owner of a $500,000 home could see a $133 tax increase per year over 20 years. Kosey says the park district conducted surveys and focus groups with residents who are clear they want to keep the land as open space.

“We really want everyone to understand this is not a done deal and to get to the polls on November 6,” she said.

What happens next could depend on what voters decide. If McDonald’s moves forward with PulteGroup, the plan would still require zoning approval.

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