The effort to sell the old Hubble Middle School site ended Thursday when Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200 revealed the terms of a recently announced sale to Chicago-based Bradford Equities LLC.
At a special meeting, school officials said they were thrilled to move on and look forward to seeing a grocery store at the highly visible northwest corner of Roosevelt and Naperville roads.
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Timeline of events leading to Hubble saleMay 2002 -- District 200 starts process of ID'ing best long-term use for Hubble Middle School
January 2004 -- Board of Education decides to build a new Hubble, now located in Warrenville
February 2007 -- School district buys property of future Hubble Middle School on Herrick Road
January 2008 -- Wheaton Park District provides the school district with a tentative plan of how it would make up for lost facilities at old Hubble property
February 2008 -- Taxpayers approve $58 million referendum
June 2009 -- Last school day at former Hubble Middle School site
August 2009 -- New Hubble opens
May 2009 to October 2010 -- Hubble Steering Committee, comprising city, school and park officials, considers what to do with old Hubble site
October 2010 -- Steering committee recommends two options: mixed-use with commercial and recreational use
December 2010 -- District 200 informs the city that it will sell the old property
Feb. 16, 2011 -- School district opens a 60-day, sealed-bid auction for the 22-acre site
April 14, 2011 -- School district announces no bids have been received
May 16, 2011 -- Live auction also receives zero bids
Tuesday -- School district announces that it has reached an agreement to sell the property to Chicago-based Bradford Equities, LLC
Thursday -- Board approves the sale
Spring 2013 -- Mariano's Fresh Market grocery store expected to open
A Bradford spokesman said a "conservative timeline" places a grand opening of a Mariano's Fresh Market grocery store at the site during the spring of 2013.
The sale also prohibits the developer from seeking or accepting tax increment finance help from the city, gives Bradford seven months to inspect the property and obtain permits, and most importantly to some people, asks Bradford to make a "good-faith effort" to work with the park district on 13 acres not suitable for development because they are on a flood plain.
Bradford spokesman Chad Jones, a Wheaton resident, said the company plans to try to sell the flood plain portion to the park district.
The deal includes an earnest money payment of $200,000 and a sale price of $5,000,200, just above the school district's minimum price tag of $5 million.
After a short closed session to finalize the deal, board members emerged and were all smiles as they prepared to end the more than decade-long sale process of the 22-acre site.
"I am very, very pleased we are here and I firmly intend to celebrate this evening," said board member Barb Intihar, as she praised the school district staff for completing the sale.
On Tuesday, the school board announced that it had reached a deal with Bradford after considering it along with a handful of other offers. Board member Andy Johnson said Thursday that you had to go back to the late 1990s to hear the first mention of wanting to do something new with the site. Years of committee meetings and a new school opening later, the school board decided to sell the property in December.
After a failed sealed-bid auction was followed by no bids in a public live auction, the school district solicited offers with the contingency that offers meet the $5 million asking price.
Bradford had originally submitted a joint offer for the property with Wheaton Park District for $2 million, a move that would have been possible only because of the intergovernmental agreement mechanism. But Jones said the company chose to make an independent bid because it wanted to be more certain that a grocery store would be the end result.
"It seemed like the park district was going to have a lot of restrictions on how they would move forward," he said. "Everybody wants a grocery store over there."
Jones said when the company demolishes the old school, the three gymnasiums on the building's north end will be preserved. Additionally, he said he expects an eight- to 12-month permitting process followed by about nine months of construction.
He said the company has been in discussions with the city and that he expects a smooth permitting process.
Board President Rosemary Swanson said the resolution meets several goals the school district has had all along, including placing the site on the city and school district's tax rolls.
The arrival of Mariano's will mean the first large grocery store in or near downtown since the Jewel-Osco moved from its downtown site in February 2008.
"I did not realize how much I would miss that Jewel until it left," she said. "I'm happy for that particular grocer even more so because it fits in well with the character of our community."
Swanson praised the city council and mayor for consistently backing the school district's efforts to get the site on the tax rolls. Additionally, she thanked the park district for being persistent in insisting that the green space remain available for public use.