Melrose Park Annexes Maywood Park Racetrack, Plans To Redevelop Site

Wednesday, February 6, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

The shuttered Maywood Park Racetrack, which is scheduled to be demolished later this year. | Courtesy Cushman & Wakefield

Melrose Park officials announced last month that the village has annexed the Maywood Park Racetrack located at 8600 W. North Ave., which closed in 2015 after filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, making way for a major redevelopment of the site that would entail demolishing some structures on the property.

In a Jan. 28 statement posted to the village’s website, Melrose Park officials said that the village’s Board of Trustees passed an annexation agreement on Dec. 10, 2018.

The racetrack had previously been located in unincorporated Cook County and controlled by the Cook County Board of Commissioners. The agreement brings the 55-acre racetrack into the jurisdiction of Melrose Park, which plans to demolish the track’s abandoned structures in order to build three industrial buildings on the property.

According to the statement, Melrose Park Mayor Ronald Serpico’s administration has made annexation a “top priority” ever since the racetrack closed in 2015.

The new development, village officials said, “will generate tax revenue that will enable Melrose Park to continue providing residents one of the lowest village property tax rates in the area.”

Village officials expect the project to generate an estimated 400 construction jobs and up to 700 permanent jobs once the development is finished.

The three industrial buildings are scheduled to be finished by late summer or early fall of 2019. The retail section along North Avenue will be done by summer of 2020, officials said.

“Tenants of the buildings will be announced at a future date when contracts are finalized,” according to the statement.

A rendering of a proposed warehouse that could be built on the site of the old Maywood Park Racetrack sometime this year. | Courtesy Cushman & Wakefield

Neither Melrose Park officials nor representatives with Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate firm listed on the site plans and renderings, could be reached for comment on Wednesday evening.

The redevelopment project marks the end of an era in west suburban history that goes back to the 1930s.

Maywood Park Racetrack opened as the Cook County Fairgrounds in 1932 and the park was where participants during Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition of 1933 and 1934 could see harness racing — minus the bets.

The racetrack began hosting wagering harness racing in 1946. The next year, the racetrack hosted the first televised harness race in the nation’s history.

Before it closed, the park was “the only Chicagoland racetrack devoted exclusively to standardbred racing” and held the distinction of hosting “a harness racing meeting for 59 consecutive seasons, the longest in the state’s standardbred history,” according to

The site lists more of the park’s rich history:

In 1957, ” the track’s season-opening night festivities went coast-to-coast nationally when NBC’s popular ‘Tonight Show’ gave live coverage to Maywood Park. The network had a 15-man crew and three cameras, one at trackside and two on the plant’s rooftop, to televise two races and conduct several interviews.

“In 1969 Maywood Park began construction of 39 fire-proof steel and concrete barns-containing 984 stalls-13 blacksmith shops, 6 separate fire-proof motel type living units containing more than 200 rooms, and a modern paddock with attached driver’s facilities.”

In 1979, Muhammad Ali “won a seven-furlong exhibition race, a fundraising event to benefit Provident Hospital of Chicago, at that time the oldest and largest African-American managed hospital in Illinois.” VFP

To read the Maywood Park Racetrack project overview, click the image below:

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