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updated: 4/2/2012 7:40 PM

Technical institute hopes to relocate to Lisle

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  • This is the rear entrance of a vacant corporate building at 2611 Corporate West Drive in Lisle. A developer wants to tear it down and replace it with another building.

      This is the rear entrance of a vacant corporate building at 2611 Corporate West Drive in Lisle. A developer wants to tear it down and replace it with another building.
    Scott Sanders | Staff Photographer


A property owner is seeking Lisle's permission to demolish a long-vacant corporate training center along Warrenville Road to build a $35 million technical school.

If constructed, the proposed 185,000-square-foot school would replace Universal Technical Institute's existing Midwest campus in Glendale Heights. The two-story facility would have classrooms and laboratory space to educate up to 1,500 students in the areas of automotive, diesel and industrial technology.

"There's nothing that helps students more than something we can build from the beginning to specifications that are going to give them the best experience," said Bill Odell, Universal Technical Institute's vice president of corporate communications

Odell said the institute's Glendale Heights location at 601 Regency Drive is spread out among five different buildings. The proposed facility would put students and 150 staff and faculty under one roof. The Lisle site also offers easy access to I-88.

The institute would lease the roughly 20-acre parcel at 2611 Corporate West Drive from land owner iStar Financial, Inc.

But first, New York-based iStar has to get permission from Lisle to redevelop the site, which already has a 236,000-square-foot corporate training center.

The existing building, which includes computer training rooms and 229 dormitory rooms, last was used by Unisys Corp. as a corporate training facility. But it's been vacant since 2006, and the property has lost more than 30 percent of its assessed value since 2004.

Plans call for iStar Financial to demolish the existing structure and invest at least $35 million to build the state-of-the-industry technical school.

Lisle's planning and zoning commission is scheduled to get its first look at the proposal during a public hearing on April 18.

If Lisle approves the project, the target is to begin construction in the fall. Classes at the new campus would start during the fourth quarter of 2013.

Representatives of iStar said the project is expected to create more than 300 construction and trade jobs this year and next year. The proposed campus would generate approximately $50 million in direct and indirect annual economic benefits to Lisle and the region, officials said.

The new campus would draw students from across the Midwest. Almost half of them would come from 100 miles away or more. Odell said students wouldn't live on the campus but would get assistance to find housing in the area.

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