A father and son with personal ties to Elgin are looking to fulfill what they see as an underserved recreational demand by bringing an indoor skate park to the city.
Ian Nathan Sr. and his son, also named Ian, brought a plan for the skate park to the city's planning and zoning commission this week. It would transform 13,500 square feet of vacant space at the McLean Plaza Shopping Center, 820 S. McLean Boulevard, into a facility with reconfigurable ramps, walls and fun boxes.
Nathan Jr., who attended South Elgin High School, told the commission he's skated off and on for much of his life. But the closest indoor skating facility to Elgin is more than an hour away, he said. That's too far, especially for younger skaters, to enjoy their favorite recreational activity during the colder months, he said.
Nathan Sr. said that unfilled need and Elgin's diverse profile fit well with the atmosphere they want to create at a new skate park.
"We know there is a huge demand," Nathan Sr. said. "We are here to request your permission to open up in your city and bring a lot of community, diversity and creativity to a city that already looks like it has a lot of it. We think we'd be a good fit here."
The commissioners agreed in passing along a favorable recommendation to the city council.
"I love it when they reuse these buildings that have been sitting empty for new and creative uses," said Commissioner Karin Jones.
The skate park would operate seven days a week. It would be open from 2 to 10 p.m. on weekdays and from noon to 10 p.m. on weekends. Weekends are expected to be the busiest times. There would be a $10 daily entry fee, although the price could increase during special events, such as skate competitions.
The skate park would have a total occupancy of up to 249 people and five employees. That's beyond the 167 parking spaces the shopping center has now. But the city staff performed an observational study that showed, even at the busiest, with all the other businesses in the shopping center open, only 36 parking spaces are needed. Because of that, the city staff recommended moving the project forward without more parking.
If the skate park opens, Lepolion Henderson, Jr. said he plans to visit often. Henderson told the commission he sometimes skates down Chicago Avenue, but that can be perilous for even an experienced skater.
"I love skating," he said. "This would be amazing because I do have to travel far out in order to skate. Please, please, please. That's all I have to say."