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A building in Vernon Hills, which once housed a furniture store, could soon become host to an adventure center for children.
Founded in 2011 and based in Dallas, Texas, the Urban Air Adventure Park franchise maintains approximately 290 locations in the country, and is in talks to open a new location at 413 N. Milwaukee Ave., an address which once belonged to an Ashley Homestore location.
“We’re negotiating the lease right now,” potential franchisee operator Neil Hoffner told the Daily Herald in May.
If the permit is approved, the Marketplace shopping center could soon see a haven for children seeking go-karts, rock walls, zip lines and trampolines. However, the franchise has seen multiple controversies in the past, many of which involved patrons getting into physical confrontations. Urban Air locations often attract patrons, both minors and adults, who are intent on fighting and are often in possession of a weapon. In a review published on Indeed on March 30, the general manager of the company's General Oaks location wrote that "my biggest complaint is all of the destructive teenagers being dropped off fighting and breaking things."
The Urban Air location in Mokena, Illinois has been the unwilling host to multiple fights over the last two years, which have escalated to the point of law enforcement getting involved. According to the Chicago Tribune, one such dispute in 2021 resulted in a security guard drawing his gun while in a facility full of children. The same facility saw a fight between two children that escalated into a brawl involving approximately 20 people in February of this year. Furthermore, a public records request for police calls regarding the Urban Air location in Bloomingdale, Illinois revealed that there have been approximately 250 calls for service there since June 2019, including reports of assault, battery, theft and other suspicious activity.
Such incidents are not isolated to Illinois. According to WFAA, an Urban Air facility in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was the site of a police-involved shooting in March 2022. A year prior in January, a fight that began at an Urban Air location in Houston spilled into the street and culminated in a 15-year-old boy getting shot in the leg.
Urban Air Adventure Park has been sued multiple times for injuries resulting from negligence and inadequately-trained staff. Several lawsuits are tied to injuries from the company's iconic Sky Rider zip line attraction. A November 2021 suit was filed by a suburban Chicago woman against the company's Bloomindale location after the local staff allegedly failed to properly secure her harness before she started on the zip line ride. Her body slipped down, and the harness tied around her neck, cutting into her throat.