Rosemont Chamber of Commerce members and guests were ready to party when more than 200 – the largest audience in the organization’s history --completely filled Gene & Georgetti’s banquet facility on Wednesday, September 14. They were there to hear their favorite speaker, Mayor Brad Stephens, deliver his annual report card on his administration’s accomplishments from the past year and plans for the future,
The luncheon was especially festive because it was the business community’s opportunity to celebrate the 60th anniversary of growth and progress in Rosemont.
Complimentary lapel pins were given to each member upon arrival, and a coaster and bar of Rosemont-branded chocolate decorated each place setting.
“Everyone in Rosemont is so positive, and they should be,” said Rosemont Chamber of Commerce Board Member Josh Robbins, who served as Master of Ceremonies of the luncheon. “Rosemont should be a ‘Best Practices’ case taught in universities on how to create a strong alliance between government and business, for the benefit of the municipality,” Robbins remarked.
An anniversary cake, colorfully decorated with scenes of Rosemont and the village’s 60th anniversary logo, was on display until dessert was served.
Mayor Stephens painted his own description of Rosemont’s first 60 years, as he began
his presentation with a story he loves to tell:
“On January 20, 1956, 84 pioneering residents decided they wanted better city services; so they voted to incorporate their town and elected a 27-year-old insurance agent to the office of mayor. That mayor was Donald E. Stephens, the founder of Rosemont and my father.
“Little did those homeowners know what was going to happen to their town over the next six decades. This story is history and quite a history it is,” Mayor Brad Stephens added proudly.
The mayor is happy with a substantial list of projects completed this year:
• The village welcomed a Lettuce Entertain You’s addition to MB Financial Park at Rosemont; Bub City and Joe’s Live are extremely popular and successful;
• the mayor and Rosemont’s Board of Trustees re-commissioned the iconic fountain on the northeast corner of River and Higgins, that opened on Mother’s Day;
• the village’s leaders and supporters unveiled a statue of Rosemont’s founder, Mayor Donald E. Stephens, on Father’s Day, in front of Village Hall (east side); and
• Gino’s East restaurant returned to Rosemont, after 14 years.
At a time when many convention centers are experiencing a decline, the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center team, led by Christopher Stephens, executive director, has secured 12 new shows for this year and nine more for 2017 – a significant increase for that business.
Improvements at the Stephens Center include the conversion of Ballroom D to 20,000 square feet of new exhibition space; plus, $2.5 million in improvements, including:
• Restroom renovations;
• exhibit hall modernization; painting new exterior elevations of the concession stands;
• improved signage.
The mayor announced that a $3 million renovation will begin soon on the Williams Street Parking Deck. Rahman Statik has led Rosemont’s street artist group in the creation of murals all through the ground floor of the parking deck. The group will complete Phase 1 of the mural project by the end of October, and Phase 2 will be finished in 2017.
Mayor Brad Stephens likes to hear creative ideas that have the potential to improve and enhance the customer experience in Rosemont.
For example, Pat Nagle, executive director of the Allstate arena, and his team are creating “The Rivers Casino Lounge” by converting five of the skyboxes and turning them into a Super Suite, or a kind of premier party facility.
The Allstate Arena has a strong line-up for the remainder of this year and into 2017.
Pentatonix, Keith Urban, Amy Schumer, Marc Anthony and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham are on the arena’s schedule, as well as the annual appearance by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Both the Chicago Wolves and the Chicago Sky return to play their regular fall/winter schedules; but this will be the final year for DePaul University’s men’s basketball program to compete at the arena.
The Rosemont Theatre will be busy, too, welcoming George Lopez, Cirque Musica, Justine Moore and Lee Brice, to name a few.
The mayor said that MB Park’s live, summer country and rock ’n roll series of weekly concerts and fireworks were a big hit, attracting huge crowds.
“Fitness in the Park” was a big success, too, as was the partnership between “Core Power Yoga” and Rosemont Health & Fitness’ “Zumba” program.
The annual “Disturbia Haunted House” attraction kicks off on September 30 and continues until November 5. On October 15, the Park hosts a Family Fest, including pumpkin carving, face painting and an evening concert by the “Chicago Six” – the band includes 1985 Chicago Bears Otis Wilson, Steve “Mongo” McMIchael and Dan Hampton.
The holidays become the focus at MB Park on November 25, with the “Light in the Park” tree-lighting ceremony and skating event. MP Park’s rink alone attracts 30,000 skaters per season, to the NHL regulation-sized ice rink. All kinds of hockey groups – from youth programs to clubs and even Chicago Blackhawk alumni games – have taken place at the extremely popular attraction.
Next, the mayor presented plans for developing the area west of I-294. That land has been vacant for the past few years, but not anymore! South of Balmoral at Pearl Street, the site for a new development has been named “The Pearl District,” and will include a 165-room boutique hotel, named “The Rose,” a 40,000 square-foot Dave & Buster’s and two other restaurants. Construction will begin in the spring of 2017, with all venues completed by 2018. The village already has begun stormwater detention and utility work on the site.
The Village Board and the mayor approved a contract for the construction of a 6,300-seat baseball stadium and adjoining parking garage, on the land north of Balmoral.
“This project is the most exciting of all,” said the mayor.
“The project will be the home of a new American Association team. The new stadium In addition to baseball, the new stadium will present concerts and outdoor events that need this size and type of venue for their shows and productions.
Rosemont’s partner in this project is Rosemont Entertainment Group, co-owned by Shawn Hunter and Steven Gluckstern.
Mayor Stephens completed his speech extending special congratulations to Elena Della Donne, Doug Bruno and the Chicago Bandits.
Elena was the star guard and Doug was the assistant coach of America’s Gold Medal women’s basket ball team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Elena plays for the Chicago Sky and Doug is the head coach of DePaul University’s Women’s Basketball program.
The Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF women’s softball) League (women’s professional softball) just won their sport‘s championship – the Cowle’s Cup – for the fourth time – a league record. This year’s win created their first set of back-to-back victories.
The mayor finished his presentation expressing many thanks to the entire chamber membership.