By Bob Uphues
Another large former retail location in North Riverside will be transformed into a family adventure/entertainment complex tentatively slated for opening in early 2020.
Urban Air Adventure Park will take over the former Tony's Finer Foods space at 7401 25th St. in the North Riverside Park Plaza shopping center, bringing a host of active recreation options including high-performance go-karts, rock-climbing walls, zip lines, bumper cars, trampolines, a virtual reality unit and more.
"The whole theme is physical, active fun," said Darius Khosravian, a Texan who will operate the Urban Air franchise in North Riverside.
Khosravian said North Riverside jumped out as a location for Urban Air as he was seeking a Chicago-area home, from the diversity and density of the population in the area to the village's reputation as being business-friendly.
"Chicago in general is bustling, but with North Riverside I was amazed by how it's a beautiful cross-section of America," Khosravian said. "We didn't see a lot of opportunities for kids 0 to 14 and even older teens to have fun that wasn't behind a computer."
Khosravian said Urban Air will offer families a place where kids can engage in physical activities during the winter months, when options for kids are few.
In addition to the activities, Urban Air will also serve food and drinks, including alcohol. Khosravian said the park can accommodate birthday parties as well as corporate events, special events and fundraisers.
Urban Air has executed a lease for the property, which will need some work to accommodate all of the various aspects of the adventure park. Building permit applications already have been submitted for work on the roof and rooftop heating and air-conditioning units.
But in order to get enough headroom clearance for some of the activities, Khosravian said workers will excavate sections of the roughly 50,600-square-foot interior to a depth of three to five feet.
Khosravian said he's hoping to open Urban Air's location in North Riverside by February 2020.
"We've spoken to the local authorities and we were amazed at how business-friendly North Riverside is," Khosravian said. "We're counting on them to streamline the permit process."
The move from retail sales to amusement/entertainment uses in the village's big-box commercial buildings started in 2018 when the family entertainment complex Round One opened in half of what was the lower-level of Sears at the North Riverside Park Mall.
Urban Air will be the second big-box structure to be converted to such use, and a sports/entertainment complex is one of three options under consideration for the former Carson Pirie Scott location at the North Riverside Park Mall.
Tony's Finer Foods moved across Harlem Avenue to Berwyn last November after a decade at that location. The entire North Riverside shopping plaza is owned by the grocery chain's parent company.