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updated: 4/22/2014 5:06 PM

Motorola Mobility bids final adieu to longtime Libertyville home

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  • Motorola Mobility has left Libertyville for Chicago.

       Motorola Mobility has left Libertyville for Chicago.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer, 2011

  • Motorola Mobility has left Libertyville for Chicago.

       Motorola Mobility has left Libertyville for Chicago.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer, 2011

  • Terry Weppler

      Terry Weppler

  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

      Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

  • Motorola Mobility leaders cut the ribbon on its new Chicago headquarters at the Merchandise Mart Tuesday, leaving the 84-acre former campus in Libertyville vacant.

      Motorola Mobility leaders cut the ribbon on its new Chicago headquarters at the Merchandise Mart Tuesday, leaving the 84-acre former campus in Libertyville vacant.
    Associated Press File Photo

 
 

While Motorola Mobility leaders cut the ribbon on its downtown Chicago headquarters Tuesday, a broker said "numerous" companies worldwide have expressed interest in the now vacant Libertyville campus.

The 84-acre former Motorola Mobility campus, touting a health center, cafeteria, private executive parking and all its furniture, could be sold or leased as a whole or divided, said Richard Plonsker, executive vice president of Philadelphia-based Binswanger, an international brokerage firm with offices in Des Plaines.

"Numerous clients have already looked at the property," Plonsker said. He declined to discuss the asking price, who's interested in the property, or if they are close to a deal.

Libertyville officials have been working with Binswanger to market the property, which allows for zoning for a variety of industries and uses, said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator.

"Despite the corporate reasons on why Motorola decided to move, the underlying strengths of the campus still stand," Rowe said. "We have a very high level of surrounding corporations, including MBX, Volkswagen Credit and Culligan, and it's a very strong corridor with plenty of features that support the entire area."

Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler said he and the village have moved on since the July 2012 announcement Motorola Mobility's then-parent company, Google Inc., decided to move the headquarters to downtown Chicago. China-based Lenovo has since acquired Motorola Mobility for about $2.91 billion.

"Sure, I'm disappointed," Weppler said. "The mayor of Chicago keeps stealing from the suburbs, instead of getting businesses from elsewhere. It doesn't help any of us in the state to be competing with one another."

Motorola Mobility is one of 28 corporate headquarters from various locations that have relocated to Chicago during Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's tenure. Suburban companies include Gogo from Itasca, Hillshire Brands from Downers Grove, GE Transportation from Melrose Park, and Reznick Group from Skokie, Other suburban companies that moved a portion of their operations into Chicago include Deerfield-based Walgreens, Mundelein-based Medline, Lake Forest-based Grainger and Schaumburg-based Motorola Solutions.

In July 2012, Motorola Mobility said it agreed to move about 2,500 workers into the Merchandise Mart. Motorola Mobility spokeswoman Kristine Mulford declined to provide the cost of the move.

The company also took its $110 million state incentive package with it. However, Motorola has not claimed EDGE credits since the second quarter of 2012, when its head count fell below the required level, Mulford said.

Motorola Mobility is ineligible to collect its tax credit because it has fallen below the jobs guarantee of 2,500 that it made with the state, said David Roeder, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Motorola Mobility claimed $11.63 million in credits in 2011 and $11.01 million in 2012, Roeder said.

On Tuesday, Emanuel joined Motorola Mobility leadership to cut the ribbon on the new global headquarters at the historic Merchandise Mart in Chicago. The company is now the Merchandise Mart's largest tenant and occupies more than 600,000 square feet on the top four floors along with a rooftop deck. It houses about 2,000 employees, said Motorola Mobility spokeswoman Kristine Mulford.

"Everyone is generally excited," Mulford said. "It's a fresh new space for us."

Motorola Mobility offered relocation packages to employees if they wanted to move into Chicago to be closer to the new headquarters. The tech giant is also offering discounted Metra tickets and a free shuttle from the train station to the Merchandise Mart, Mulford said.

"It's been an adjustment for many of our folks, since a lot of them come from the suburbs," Mulford said.

She could not say how much of the workforce includes suburban residents.

"The city is thrilled to welcome Motorola Mobility back to downtown Chicago," Mayor Emanuel said in a statement. "As a global leader of the rapidly growing technology industry, Motorola Mobility will now have access to our exceptional workforce, transportation system and business climate. Motorola Mobility will act as a major economic engine, bringing 2,000 jobs to the city."

Motorola Mobility had spun off from Motorola Inc., which started in Chicago 86 years ago, then moved to Schaumburg.

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