Whether or not an upscale development is coming to Busse Farm, the Elk Grove Village fire station and training facility built on the valuable O'Hare market property will be demolished.
Less than 20 years ago, the village spent about $3.2 million to construct the prominent fire station at Oakton Street and Lively Boulevard on the southeast corner of the 70-acre open site. Combined with a state-of-the-art, four-story training tower built for roughly $850,000 in state grant funds, the facility became the envy of neighboring suburban fire departments.
At the time, village officials justified growing costs by saying "if this building is going to last the next 100 years we may as well do it right."
The fire station won't last a century, however, because the village has an aggressive $110 million capital works plan called Elk Grove 2025. Part of the plan includes tearing down the fire station on Oakton Street and another one built in 1971 at 1655 Greenleaf Ave., and combining operations into a new station somewhere along the Busse Road corridor.
The land has long remained vacant, with developers showing interest but deals falling through. Twice the village tried to strike a deal to build a football stadium and lure the Chicago Bears away from Soldier Field.
Asked whether the village demolishing the fire station was a way to clear land for a potential developer, Mayor Craig Johnson said the fire station would be razed even if the land remains undeveloped.
"We truly have a need to combine our facilities," he said. He said the station on Greenleaf has only one engine and three firefighters, while the Oakton station has unspecified operational deficiencies. "It makes sense to consolidate."
Additionally, Johnson said, the village could recoup money spent on the fire station two decades ago by selling the property to a developer. He said in his State of the Village speech last month that all parties are close to a deal that could lead to development of the farm.
Although the farm land is technically unincorporated Cook County, the village controls development because the plot is essentially an island surrounded by village. The village board would need to approve annexing the property so a developer could tap into municipal infrastructure.
"Businesses have been drooling over it for years," Johnson said. "This is a high business value property. That's why we've been very picky on what's going to occur."
And what exactly could be coming to the village? Johnson wouldn't say. He has described the development as "high-end" including "big users."
The landowner, Tim Busse, and the real estate broker could not be reached for comment.