The former Motorola Mobility campus in Libertyville has been sold for $9.5 million to a commercial real estate firm at a fraction of its market value of $37.1 million.
Still, Rockville, Maryland-based Beco Management Inc. said Monday it plans to invest another $50 million in renovations to create a multiuse technology park modeled after the firm's similar project in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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"We are thrilled that Beco has seen the potential at this facility and for its plans to make it into a world-class, high-tech campus," said Heather Rowe, economic development coordinator in Libertyville. "All of that can benefit the workforce and make this into a strong business center."
Peggy Freese, Libertyville Township assessor, said the Motorola campus buildings and 84 acres of land have a market value of about $37.1 million as of July 1. Motorola Mobility paid taxes of $940,965 in 2012 and $994,775 in 2013 on the campus.
Freese declined to comment on the deal until she could review it and what impact it would have on property tax collections. "It all depends on what they do with the buildings," Freese said.
Motorola Mobility spokeswoman Kristine Mulford confirmed the sale but declined to provide further details.
Beco intends to transform the campus into Innovation Park, Chicago-Libertyville. The project will be managed by a newly created Chicago-based division called Beco Midwest, said Chris Epstein, currently president of Beco South, who will become the president of Beco Midwest and oversee the Libertyville project.
Innovation Park, Chicago-Libertyville is expected to be completed by late summer or early fall 2015. It could house four to 10 companies, although no companies have been signed yet, Epstein said.
Beco did not receive any tax incentives from the state and local governments, Epstein said.
"We have been working closely with Libertyville officials and they have been fantastic," Epstein said. "They have bent over backward to accommodate us."
About four years ago, Beco purchased the former IBM campus in Charlotte, North Carolina, which was 70 percent vacant and had 12 buildings. Beco then renovated the property, which now houses more than 6,000 workers, Epstein said.
Over the course of 3½ years, Beco leased more than 1.2 million square feet of space at Innovation Park-Charlotte. It is now 95 percent leased and includes AON Hewitt, Allstate, BB&T, Areva's U.S. headquarters, AXA's National Operations Center, Enterprise Holdings' Southeastern headquarters, Wells Fargo and Siemens.
Libertyville officials were impressed with the Charlotte success and hope the same happens here, Rowe said.
Libertyville officials weren't concerned that the campus sold for a fraction of its value because the investment in renovations will improve its market value, Rowe said.
Also, the finished tech park will provide untold economic benefits, Rowe said. Once the campus is completed and the workforce is in place, those people will be shopping and eating locally, buying homes in the area and contributing to the local economy, she said.
Besides the Motorola Mobility campus, other companies also have moved in or expanded in the area, Rowe said.
Also, Volkswagen Credit doubled its space and Brightstar tripled its space in Libertyville buildings. And MBX Systems moved in and quadrupled its space in Libertyville, as well, Rowe said.
Adding jobs has been important after a hard recession that forced massive layoffs in the region.
Luckily, the Libertyville campus, constructed in 1992, has remained empty only since April when Motorola Mobility completed its move of its international headquarters into downtown Chicago.
Another Motorola Inc. spinoff, Motorola Solutions, took a couple of years before it sold one of two buildings on its Schaumburg campus. Zurich North America is now building a new headquarters there. Another building on the Schaumburg campus is still waiting for a buyer.
Elsewhere, the Continental Towers in Rolling Meadows also has a new owner, GlenStar Properties, which is sprucing up the site, while the Antioch Corporate Center is getting a $25 million investment.
So the quick sale of the Libertyville campus offers the chance at rejuvenating the area.
"When we acquired the IBM campus, no one wanted it and they didn't know what to do with it," Epstein said. "It's now a destination. That's what we hope to do in Libertyville."