Leaves aging building behind in favor of Olympia Fields location
By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (September 24, 2020) – The Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau’s time in Lansing has come to an end. Although the non-profit organization will continue to promote Lansing as a destination in Chicago’s south suburbs—as it does with 61 other municipalities in the Chicago southland—it no longer has a physical presence in Lansing.
The Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau (CSCVB) was located at 2304 173rd St., north of the highway and just a block west of Torrence Ave. The Bureau called Lansing its home for 23 years.
Time to move on
CSCVB Executive Vice President Sally Schlesinger said that the Lansing location had everything they wanted when they moved there 23 years ago. “We saw [2304 173rd St.] and we thought ‘Wow, what a great stand-alone [building],’ it was putting us right near the hotels, it was right off the interstate, and back in those days, we were able to put up visitor information signage before you hit Torrence Avenue, so we were drawing a lot of business off the interstate,” she said.
On Sept. 15, Schlesinger and CSCVB President Jim Garrett came before the Lansing Village Board of Trustees to explain the move and thank the Village. “The building that we’re in—as you know—we’ve had some serious issues with the building from the standpoint of maintenance,” Garrett said.
“We were coming to the end of our lease. … I believe [the owner of the property] has other interests in maybe tearing down the building. Of course they were keeping up the part that they had to … but it was at the time that it really needed upgrading. We did buildouts 23 years ago, and there was a lot of upgrading that needed to happen, that would have been a lot more expense,” Schlesinger told The Lansing Journal.
She explained that the Olympia Fields location is in an office park where the rent is cheaper and the same expensive upgrades are not necessary.
Schlesinger also noted that the CSCVB now has a kiosk in the Lincoln Oasis in South Holland that stretches over I-80, which allows them to have a physical presence along the highway—a criteria that the CSCVB’s main office no longer needed to meet. “When you represent 62 municipalities and your office is located in the furthest east in the state, I’m sure there were times when people were like, ‘Hmm, you’re way over there,’ you know, because we do represent 62 communities,” Schlesinger said.
Selling the Chicago southland
The Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau is a non-profit organization that coordinates sales and marketing of the Chicago Southland as a destination for leisure visitors, meetings and conventions, group tours (motorcoaches), sporting events, and other activities.
“If you think about what a realtor is to a buyer and seller of a home—you have somebody that wants to sell a home and somebody that wants to buy a home—we’re kind of like a realtor. We’re behind the person whose job, in their company, is to find meeting space, or find venues for their sporting group, or they’re a tour bus operator and they’re looking for areas to go into and see what they can do—we’re a one stop shop … and we’re selling the entire Chicago southland, no matter where the location is of our office,” Schlesinger explained.
Hard to say goodbye
Both Schlesinger and Garrett emphasized that the reasons for the move had nothing to do with the Lansing community. “We think back to all the many events we’ve hosted here and the Village has always, always stepped to the plate, always been there and has made us really special. And we feel a special relationship with the Village and the staff,” Garrett said at the Sept. 15 Board meeting.
Schlesinger, who lived in Lansing for years, said that CSCVB sales staff went to personally thank the hotels near their Lansing office and share the news of the Bureau’s departure. “It wasn’t easy for us to go,” she said.
Formerly located at 2304 173rd St. in Lansing, the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau is now located at 19900 Governors Drive, Suite 200 in Olympia Fields. More information about the organization can be found on its website, visitchicagosouthland.com.