The DuPage Airport Authority is taking a different approach to spur development of a nearly vacant business park in West Chicago, including broadening the purpose of the site and looking to sell off parcels.
Originally dubbed the DuPage National Technology Park, the 800-acre property just south of the DuPage Airport was envisioned for high-tech businesses. State officials had so much faith in the development that the department of commerce and economic opportunity awarded a $34 million grant for roads, utilities and landscaping.
But the airport authority, which owns the land, has struggled to find tenants since it started marketing the business park in 2005. The only operating business at the site is a Pella Windows sales and repair office.
So the Oak Brook-based firm working with the airport to market and lease the land, CenterPoint Properties, recommended a new direction.
For starters, the authority has renamed the site The DuPage Business Center and allows other potential uses for the property, including light manufacturing.
Now the authority is seeking permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to sell about 533 acres at the business park. The proposal calls for another 72 acres, including the business park's internal roadway network, to be turned over to West Chicago, the county and the Illinois Department of Transportation.
If the request is approved, the authority would be able to pursue potential users who would rather own -- not lease -- their parcels.
"This will give us the best possible opportunity that we'll have to develop the park," said David Bird, the authority's executive director. "It will develop over time. We just want to see if we can expedite that."
In order to get approval to sell property, FAA officials must agree the land won't be needed for aviation use. Bird said a decision is expected next month.
All the revenue from land sales will come back to the airport. Bird said the 533 acres has a total estimated value of at least $64 million.
Buyers would be required to develop parcels within a certain amount of time. The authority also would retain easements.
"It doesn't change the overall use of the park," Bird said of selling parcels. "It just gives us flexibility in marketing and developing the park."
By developing the land, airport officials hope to increase the airport's revenue and lighten the burden on taxpayers.
"We want developments," Bird said, "because that's what's going to bring the jobs and, ultimately, the tax revenue to the city and the county."