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Article updated: 7/10/2013 5:11 PM

Old industrial area to be revamped in Libertyville

By Mick Zawislak

A Chicago-based developer's plans for a major investment in an aging industrial area in Libertyville are set to proceed following key approvals from the village.

Bridge Development Partners LLC expects to begin demolition this fall on the first phase of what is expected to be a $25 million investment in a 21-acre site at 804 E. Park Ave. (Route 176).

In what is described as a rare speculative project in Lake County, the developer intends to build new warehousing and distribution facilities to replace World War II era buildings.

"It replaces some obsolete structures and brings an opportunity for modern manufacturing and assembly," said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator.

She said that for years, there has been "very little" speculative construction in Libertyville or Lake County.

As planned, the two-part project would involve the demolition of one building and construction of a 185,750-square-foot facility on the west half of the site, known as the Aldridge Business Center. The completion of the first building is projected for summer 2014.

The building to be taken out used to be part of the former Frank G. Hough Co., a heavy equipment maker that once was one of the village's largest employers.

An existing building housing Hanna Cylinders would remain for now, but would be demolished if or when the businesses relocates. It would be replaced with a 220,500-square foot building with a truck court between the two new facilities.

"Central Lake County is a good market. Land is scarce, so redeveloping a site like this makes a lot of sense," said Mark Christensen of Bridge, a privately-owned firm that acquires and develops industrial and office sites throughout the Chicago area.

"The density of this area is still strong," he said of Libertyville "It will be a multitude of users, light manufacturing, light assembly, (and) R & D."

No tenants have been identified.

According to Colliers International, the industrial vacancy rate for Lake County in the first quarter of 2013 fell below 10 percent for the first time in more than more than four years.

The Bridge proposal has been in the works for more than six months. On Tuesday, the village board approved four measures involving the site and the plan.

Approvals were subject to 19 conditions, including a requirement to continuously monitor vibration during demolition. Other conditions include no truck deliveries or idling between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. and leases structured to require future tenants not exceed 50 decibels during the day or 45 decibels at night as measured from adjacent residential properties.

Some nearby residents had concerns about the noise and vibration during demolition as well as from future uses.

"Noise from ongoing operations is a long-term concern," said Dale Sherman, a resident of Meadow Lane, who in past discussions spoke on behalf of several residents. Ambient noise now is near village limits, he added.

"I'm not sure how they're going to meet the ordinances," he said.

Sherman said residents favor development of the site and described Bridge as a respected company, but thought the village could have imposed more controls.

"While I know we're still concerned about some things ... we want that area developed," village Trustee Donna Johnson said last month during a discussion of the plans. "We want somebody to come in and do something we're proud of and still be sensitive to residents."

The board actions Tuesday allow the project to proceed, although Bridge within a year has to submit a final plat of subdivision and final concept plan for review by the village's plan commission and approval by the village board.

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