Photo by Joe Boyle
The only remaining reminder of the old Sabre Room is the sign that can still be seen prominently along 95th Street in Hickory Hills. The once iconic entertainment center was torn down this past spring to make room for development that will feature senior housing.
Hickory Hills Mayor Mike Howley said that not a day goes by that the city does not hear from a caller inquiring about the future of the old Sabre Room site.
“We receive calls all the time,” Howley said. “They just want to hear an update. The senior community from Hickory Hills is very excited. They are looking forward to this. But some agreements have to be reached with different agencies.”
An agreement was reached with the Koziarz Group, owners of the property, during a Hickory Hills City Council meeting this past spring. The approved ordinance includes a planned unit development (PUD) proposal that would take in the site of the old Sabre Room, 8900 W. 95th St., Hickory Hills. The once iconic center was the site of wedding receptions and noted performers who took the stage there, including Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. The Sabre Room closed last year and the building was demolished during the spring.
The approved special use for PUD, which is located in a R-4 Single Family Residence District and C-3 Highway Commercial District, will allow a combination of commercial and residential uses, including retail stores, independent and assisted living apartments, senior apartments, senior single-family ranch homes, and property that may be donated to the city for use as a public library or other public purposes.
Howley was one of the officials that met with the Koziarz Group, Retown, the development manager; and Chicagoland Realty, marketing and sales, to review the numerous plans that have been presented to the city.
The ordinance was approved after a delay due to zoning issues, water supply and sewage discharge limitations and traffic flow regulations. Surrounded by residential neighborhoods, the Sabre Woods property is about 30 acres, anchoring the city’s west edge along 95th Street. The master plan capitalizes on the rolling land contours and the elevated views. The natural resources are abundant including wetlands and woodlands that will be carefully interconnected with the new building areas, according to the developers.
“We want to move forward with development on this site, but we want to abide by what our zoning board has recommended,” Howley said at the time.
In reviewing the document that Howley had distributed, both council members and staff, raised a number of questions and concerns on density levels, setbacks and width of streets proposed.
Howley met with the developers last week to go over some of the issues. The Hickory Hills mayor said the developers have to come to agreements with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District regarding retention ponds and water flow. Other issues ranging from electrical and street renovations have to be made.
“They need to just get certain services developed,” Howley said. “We have residential agreements for six to eight single-family homes. Any other residential use after that is for ages 55 and over. We just don’t want to put more burden on our school districts. They have a lot of kids going to these schools now and we have to think about them.”
Along with Schools Districts 117 and 230, Howley said that 70 to 75 percent of all real estate has to be set aside for senior housing, according to the agreement.
“They are moving forward,” Howley said about the developers. “They have to contact the MWRD and the Army Corps of Engineers. There is still a lot of planning ahead.”
Former Ald. Tom McAvoy added that plans have to be made because of the terrain.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that this is not flat land,” said McAvoy. “There are a lot of hills and variations along this property. Water lines and drainage have to be considered. They also have to apply for city permits. Everyone is anxious but it takes time.”
Howley believes once the paperwork is done, the actual plans can begin.
“They have been working hard to get this done,” Howley said. “They are in earnest in providing senior housing. They reached out to us and we will get it done.