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Mystery Freeman Road development granted final approval by Huntley Village Board

The development of a large plot of land off of Freeman Road for a mystery business, which promises to bring 1,000 jobs to Huntley in 2022, will break ground in the coming weeks after the Huntley Village Board approved the project Thursday evening.

The idea of approving a new development without knowing the company that would inhabit it would have been unthinkable “back in the day,” Huntley Mayor Chuck Sass said, but the practice has become increasingly common in recent years. Plus, the village simply could not pass up on an opportunity to bring 1,000 jobs to the area, he said.

“My concern was … if we didn’t do it here, they might jump us and go to Hampshire or go all the way out to Marengo or something like that,” Sass said after Thursday’s meeting. “It’s a different way of thinking about it, but I’m proud that we did it this way. You’ve got to adapt.”

Chicago-based developer Venture One Real Estate will likely have people on the site as soon as Friday to begin work on the 282-acre property at 41W368 Freeman Road, commonly known as Stade Farm, as their unnamed client hopes to have a large distribution center built and ready to move in by the second quarter of 2022, Sass said.

A more detailed map of a new development proposal for a large property off of Freeman Road in Huntley shows the developer's plans for phase one construction on the site's southern lot. The development proposal, brought forward by Venture One Real Estate, would be for an unnamed company that promises to bring upwards of 1,000 jobs to Huntley in 2022.

A more detailed map of a new development proposal for a large property off of Freeman Road in Huntley shows the developer’s plans for phase one construction on the site’s southern lot. The development proposal, brought forward by Venture One Real Estate, would be for an unnamed company that promises to bring upwards of 1,000 jobs to Huntley in 2022. (Screenshot/)

The distribution center will be accompanied by a large employee parking lot and 720 parking spaces for semitrailer trucks, leading Sass to believe that the mystery client could be an Amazon.

“Everybody’s speculating. Everybody has a pretty good idea, but I don’t know,” he said Thursday. “I was hoping they would tell us tonight. … I kind of think it might be an Amazon, but they’re all over the place.”

Now that the project has been approved, Venture One will work with the village to release the long-awaited identity of their client “in the next week or so,” Ryan Stoller, a representative of the developer, said Thursday.

In a public hearing on the project held Thursday, residents of Prairie Oaks subdivision, which borders the development site on the east side, thanked Venture One for changes made to the plan at their request, but requested a few other modifications that were not made.

The main concerns voiced by residents centered around the construction of a barrier made of earth and plants, also known as a berm, along the eastern border of the property’s northern lot.

A digital mock-up shows what the distribution site proposed in the Venture One development would look like from the perspective of residential neighbors to the southeast of the property. A group of residents from the Prairie Oaks subdivision abutting the property worked with Venture One and the village of Huntley to make sure their concerns were heard before the Village Board votes to approve the development on March 11.

A digital mock-up shows what the distribution site proposed in the Venture One development would look like from the perspective of residential neighbors to the southeast of the property. A group of residents from the Prairie Oaks subdivision abutting the property worked with Venture One and the village of Huntley to make sure their concerns were heard before the Village Board votes to approve the development on March 11. (Screenshot/)

The language written into Venture One’s agreement with the village states that the berm must be at 940 feet elevation along the entirety of the eastern edge of the property.

Some residents said this will not be high enough to hide the distribution center from certain neighboring properties whose owners greatly value their unobstructed view of the natural wetlands.

They advocated that the ground be raised 20 feet along the eastern border regardless of elevation, a request which the developers said they were unable to fulfill as raising the earth too sharply would lead to erosion over time.

“It’s amazing how many of the issues [residents] were concerned about were really resolved, so thank you for being flexible,” Trustee Ronda Goldman said.

With that, the board then voted unanimously to approve the annexation and rezoning of the property, as well as a special use permit, the planned unit development, and the preliminary and final plat of subdivision for the property.

The plan approved Thursday includes construction plans for only one of two lots that the property will be divided into, but Venture One requested pre-approval to develop the second lot without having to come back before the Village Board to do so, according to their petition. Development of the second lot would be required to stay within the confines of an established set of design criteria.

Mike Figolah, a resident of the Prairie Oaks subdivision in Huntley, gives his public comment at the Huntley Village Board meeting on March 11, 2021.

Mike Figolah, a resident of the Prairie Oaks subdivision in Huntley, gives his public comment at the Huntley Village Board meeting on March 11, 2021. (Kelli Duncan/Crystal Lake, IL)

Phase one of the plan includes the construction of a 629,186-square-foot distribution center with a 44,186-square-foot office space on the southern lot next to Freeman Road. It also aims to build a 1,000-space employee parking lot south of the building and 720 semitrailer parking spaces.

The development represents a $100 million investment by Venture One and its first phase will bring an estimated $50,000 in property tax revenue to the village, according to a copy of the development plan included in the agenda for Thursday’s Village Board meeting.

The plan was first brought before the Huntley Village Board in January with the ambitious goal of being granted approval and breaking ground before the end of March, the Northwest Herald has reported.

The proposal then went before the village’s Plan Commission in February when a number of modifications were made at the request of residents of the Prairie Oaks subdivision.

The modified development plan requires the construction of a 12-foot sound wall along the eastern edge of the property’s northern lot in addition to the berm. The village also increased the setbacks required, to at least 200 feet for parking and at least 350 feet for buildings with an additional 2 feet for every 1 foot of building height over 45 feet tall.

Trustee Ronda Goldman listens to public comment during a Huntley Village Board meeting on March 11, 2021.

Trustee Ronda Goldman listens to public comment during a Huntley Village Board meeting on March 11, 2021. (Kelli Duncan/Crystal Lake, IL)

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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