ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- Demolition began at the former Arlington Park in Arlington Heights, after the city granted the Chicago Bears' indoor permit.
Heavy equipment is now in place and in motion, tearing apart the inside of the former racetrack pavilion.
"I actually took some pictures this morning because I knew I'm not going to be seeing this for too much longer," said resident Dan Veytsman.
Despite closing the sale with the racetrack's longtime owner, Churchill Downs, for a little more than $197 million, the Chicago Bears still haven't confirmed they will actually relocate to the northwest suburban site. There are plans to create a state-of-the-art sports complex for Chicago's NFL team there.
Property owners are banking on the Bears boosting tax revenue beyond the sprawling complex.
"We bought our house a couple years ago kind of right when talks were heating up," said resident Killian
"I think people are pretty excited about the idea, the stadium, the entertainment complex that they talk about. It's definitely a big draw and I think people are excited about it, but not as excited about funding it all," said Veytsman.
According to records, the Cook County Assessor appraised the property at $197 million, a five-fold increase from 2021 when it was valued at just under $33 million. In a back-and-forth negotiation, the school district, which benefits from property taxes, and the race track's previous owner have agreed to taxing the property at $95 million.
"I think taxes seem to be high enough anywhere you go in Illinois so we don't need them to be higher. We need the revenue to be brought in to support the tax base," Veytsman said.
Any real work is still hidden from plain view and restricted to jus the inside, but progress is actually underway at the historic track that's sat dormant for more than a year.