Fire Damages Former Arlington Trackside OTB Facility in Waukegan with Churchill Downs Logos Still on Display

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Police, firefighters and paramedics from Waukegan responded about 4:49 a.m. Wednesday, March 6, 2024 to a report of a commercial building fire at 630 South Green Bay Road in Waukegan. A passing motorist reported flames showing from the roof of a 1-story commercial building. The vacant building was known on dispatch location records as the former Arlington OTB facility.

Upon arrival firefighters reported fire showing, established a water supply from city fire hydrants, and extinguished the fire with several hand lines and an elevated master stream from a Waukegan aerial tower truck.

No injuries were reported at the scene of the vacant building.

A MABAS Division 4 Box Alarm (Change of Quarters) on Box #16-1 was activated by 5:27 a.m. The Box Alarm was struck out at about 7:34 a.m.

Firefighters, paramedics and/or command officers from Great Lakes, Libertyville, Lake Villa, and Zion responded for Change of Quarters in Waukegan fire stations. Mutual aid equipment assigned for Change of Quarters included fire engines, a ladder truck, and an ambulance.

The nearest exposure, which was not at risk, was a vacant former White Castle restaurant building at the southwest corner of Green Bay Road and Belvidere Road.

The one-story former horse racing Off Track Betting (OTB) facility had been vacant for at least five years. The facility, built in 1959, was once known as Arlington Trackside OTB and was leased to the owners of Arlington Park, and later was known as Waukegan OTB.

The facility once featured over 250 television monitors for horse racing events in North America. The building also featured a restaurant, and other dining and bar facilities. The restaurant, dining and bar facilities were known as the Finish Line Restaurant, the Grandstand Bar, the Horse Shoe Bar and the Backstretch Deli, according to

A cause and origin report and damage estimate information summary were not initially available. The fire investigation is under the authority of the Waukegan Fire Department.

The window-less building is approximately 150 feet by 180 feet (less than 27,000 square feet) on a blighted property with a parking lot in a state of disrepair. The lot is approximately 70,0000 square feet. No record of ownership was available from the official Lake County Property Search database. According to commercial real estate websites, the property was not for sale, but was valued ranging from $1.1 Million to $1.6 Million.

A front-entrance awning, with the Churchill Downs twin spires logo displayed, remained intact at the scene Wednesday morning. Street signs also remained on Green Bay Road and on Belvidere Road with the words Trackside Off-Track Betting OTB/Finish Line Restaurant & Lounge with the Churchill Downs twin spires logo displayed.

Initially it was unknown if there were demolition permits for the building, but a Hitachi excavator was parked at the scene Wednesday morning.

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